Norway wealth fund grows to record $1.09 trillion

The fund’s chief executive, Yngve Slyngstad, said that ‘the return on the investments in global financial markets has been so high that it can be compared to having discovered oil again.’ (AFP)
Updated 25 October 2019

Norway wealth fund grows to record $1.09 trillion

  • The fund reached the milestone as its government regulators grapple with strategy changes
  • The size of the fund has grown to almost three times that of Norway’s annual gross domestic product

OSLO: The value of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, grew to a record 10 trillion Norwegian crowns ($1.09 trillion) on Friday, boosted by rising global stocks and the strength of the euro and dollar.
The fund reached the milestone as its government regulators grapple with strategy changes, including how to handle climate risk and a proposed large-scale shift of investments into the United States.
Built since 1996 to save petroleum revenues for future generations, the size of the fund has grown to almost three times that of Norway’s annual gross domestic product, far exceeding original projections.
“When the fund was set up, nobody thought it would pass 10,000 billion crowns. We were lucky to discover oil,” the fund’s chief executive, Yngve Slyngstad, said in a statement confirming the record.
“The return on the investments in global financial markets has been so high that it can be compared to having discovered oil again,” he said.
An update on the fund’s website showed the Government Pension Fund Global’s value reaching 10 trillion Norwegian crowns for the first time at 0857 GMT — more than $200,000 for every man, woman and child in Norway.
Commonly known as the oil fund and managed by a unit of the central bank, it invests close to 70 percent of funds in global equities and some 28 percent in a portfolio of fixed-income assets. Unlisted real estate holdings make up the rest.
On Aug. 27, the central bank proposed a shift that could ultimately move more than $100 billion out of European stock markets and into the United States, although such a move, if approved, could take years to complete.
The $750 billion equities portfolio has historically been heavily weighted toward Europe, aligning its fortunes with countries from which Norway draws most of its imports.
A move away from Europe would not be a verdict on the continent’s prospects, the fund insists, but would reflect a desire to apply neutral weights to global stock markets and thus make returns less dependent on a particular region.


Crown prince highlights key ways Saudi budget 2020 will contribute to Vision 2030

Updated 10 December 2019

Crown prince highlights key ways Saudi budget 2020 will contribute to Vision 2030

  • The budget for the coming year reflects and reinforces the commitment to implement the reforms

RIYADH: After King Salman announced Saudi Arabia’s budget for 2020 on Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman highlighted some of its key elements and their implications, along with his thoughts on the ongoing implementation of economic reforms in the Kingdom.

He said that the government’s economic transformation of the country is progressing steadily in accordance with Vision 2030. The budget for the coming year reflects and reinforces the commitment to implement the reforms, plans and programs designed to help achieve this, he noted, and sets specific goals in a number of areas to help create a vibrant society, a prosperous economy and an ambitious homeland.

The crown prince added that the government is working to improve the quality of life in the Kingdom by developing and diversifying the economy, improving job opportunities and enhancing government services in terms of financial and economic stability, which is the main pillar of sustainable economic growth.

He also pointed out that the economic and structural reforms implemented during the past three years are having positive effects on the country’s financial and economic performance. The Kingdom has recently achieved remarkable increases in real GDP growth rates in the non-oil sector, and the government has encouraged the private sector play an important role in the economy, the positive results of which include significant growth in the business sector, the crown prince added. The government has also implemented a number major projects in vital sectors and launched activities that will help to achieve economic growth goals and create job opportunities, he said.

Crown Prince Mohammed stressed the importance of engaging with the private sector as a major and vital partner for the development of the Kingdom. He also noted the continuing program of reforms by the government designed to develop the business sector and create an attractive environment for investors to contribute to economic growth. This has helped to greatly boost the Kingdom’s ranking on international indexes that measure competitiveness and ease of doing business, he added.

“We aim to create an attractive investment environment that contributes to directing the national economy toward broad prospects of diversification, growth and prosperity,” the crown prince said. “The government will continue to move forward with implementing the stages of economic transformation and will progress with diversifying the economy’s productive base while maintaining financial sustainability and providing wider opportunities for a better future for the current and future generations.”

He stated that the government has a clear vision, fixed goals and explicit plans, and is working on implementing them while maintaining financial and economic stability as an essential pillar of sustainable economic growth.

“Financial and economic results and indicators confirm that we are progressing positively,” he said. “We constantly review and update the policies, procedures and programs implemented to ensure their effectiveness and to rectify their course whenever the need arises, in order to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, taking into account the global financial and economic conditions and what is in the interest of our homeland and citizens.”

The 2020 Saudi budget has been prepared in light of a global economic atmosphere characterized by challenges, risks and protectionist policies, said Crown Prince Mohammed, which require flexibility in the management of public finances and strengthening the ability of the economy to face the challenges and risks.

“We aim, through this budget, to benefit from the programs that were achieved and rely on them to maintain a balance between economic growth and the sustainable financial stability that guarantees this growth,” he said.

The crown prince noted that financial-control policies and the development of public financial management and its efficiency have contributed to the continued reduction of the budget deficit. This is expected to fall to about 4.7 percent of GDP in 2019, compared with 5.9 percent in 2018 and 9.3 percent in 2017. This confirms the success of ongoing efforts to ensure financial sustainability, and progress in implementing projects to improve the private sector, he added.

He also confirmed that the 2020 budget continues to support programs that contribute to achieving Vision 2030. This includes the financing of major projects, helping to develop medium, small and micro enterprises, and supporting entrepreneurs. These are some of the most important engines for economic growth, which will help to diversify the economy and open up new fields for investment and employment, he added

The budget includes reviews of some of these programs and schedules to ensure they reach their goals, Crown Prince Mohammed said, and the continued development and modernization of government infrastructure and services. He also stressed the government’s focus on improving the efficiency and quality of spending, to make the best use of state resources to achieve the highest possible social and economic income.

He highlighted the recent launch of oil company Saudi Aramco as a major step forward for the Kingdom, and his support for enhancing the role and participation of the private sector in the nation’s economy. He noted that opportunities for the private sector will continue to increase, enhancing its role in the growth and diversification of the economy and in creating job opportunities in the medium and long terms.

The crown prince also pointed out the part played by the Public Investment Fund and the National Development Fund in achieving Vision 2030, as the local and external investment mechanisms and the growth arm of the local economy, which are also contributing to the diversification of the economy and income sources. These are among the most important strategic goals of Vision 2030, he said.