$40bn transferred from SAMA's FX reserves to PIF, says Saudi finance minister

Mohammed Al-Jadaan, the Minister of Finance and acting Minister of Economy and Planning. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 29 May 2020

$40bn transferred from SAMA's FX reserves to PIF, says Saudi finance minister

  • Transfer to PIF was carried out after an in-depth consultation

LONDON: SAR150 billion ($40 billion) were transferred from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority’s foreign exchange reserves to the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) in March and April, Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said on Friday.

The government will continue to implement development plans to diversify the economy, increase local content and support private sector growth, Al-Jadaan, who is also acting minister of economy and planning, said in a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency.

This will happen either through the state’s general budget or through the role played by the development funds and the PIF to improve economic performance and enhance the return on the Kingdom’s assets, he added.

The transfer to the PIF was carried out after an in-depth consultation and in consideration of the adequacy of foreign exchange reserves, Al-Jadaan said.

Decisions to gradually reopen economic activities represent a new stage in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and toward a gradual return to normal economic activity, he added.

Al-Jadaan said the government had increased — during the last period through the budget — spending on urgent and necessary requirements to face the coronavirus crisis, and in doing so had significantly strengthened the financial allocations for the health and related services sector.

The decision to restart some sectors had been made with the advice of health professionals and guidelines at every stage of the plan to resume economic activities, he added.

The return of activities to their previous levels largely depends on the level of commitment by all, Al-Jadaan said, adding that the move is in line with economies reopening worldwide.

Saudi Arabia calls for international action over decaying Red Sea oil tanker

Updated 16 min 47 sec ago

Saudi Arabia calls for international action over decaying Red Sea oil tanker

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has called for strong and decisive international efforts to deal with the global threats posed by a decaying oil tanker moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast.

During a virtual meeting on Wednesday of the UN Security Council to discuss the stranded FSO Safer vessel, which is loaded with more than 1 million barrels of crude oil, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN, ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, highlighted the “grave risks” the ship presented.

The 45-year-old tanker has been anchored about 60 km north of Hodeidah since the start of Yemen’s civil war five years ago. Iran-backed Houthi rebels agreed on Sunday to allow a UN inspection team access to the ship for a maintenance check.

Al-Mouallimi said: “I would like to express our appreciation for convening this session to discuss the hazardous situation of the tanker and the dangers it is posing to the environment and maritime navigation in the Red Sea.

“The grave risks associated with this floating oil tanker threaten to cause harm to the Southern Red Sea and to the world at large as it is situated in the proximity of Bab Al-Mandab (Strait), through which vital international maritime navigation passes through between Asia and Europe.

“This dangerous situation must not be left unaddressed, and the Security Council bears primary responsibility for securing the safety and security of the area,” he added.

The envoy told delegates that an oil spill from the FSO Safer could have the potential to be worse than the devastating 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska.

He pointed out that loss of oil from the ship could also result in the closing of the port of Hodeidah for months, leading to severe shortages in the supply of fuel and other essentials to the people of Yemen, and severe long-term damage to the region’s fishing industry.

Marine life, the environment, and Saudi shores would also be seriously and adversely affected, he added, and toxic gases and black clouds from any major spillage would damage agricultural land in vast areas of Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

“The Security Council has already asserted the need to confront the risks associated with this situation and warned against the catastrophic consequences that would result if this situation remains unresolved. The Security Council did so in its resolution 2511 (2020) and its press statement issued on June 29, 2020,” said Al-Mouallimi.

“We took notice of the announcement made recently by the spokesperson of the UN secretary-general that the Houthi rebels have agreed to allow access to the tanker.

“We remain suspicious of the Houthis plans and intentions, and request that the Security Council must remain vigilante and should stand ready to declare strong and decisive measures to deal with this situation and eliminate the risks posed by it.”

The ambassador said that the Kingdom stood ready to take all necessary steps that the Security Council may deem fit to handle the situation.

“The council must not allow such reckless and irresponsible behavior to stand. The council must ensure that a political solution for the conflict in Yemen is found based on UN Security Council Resolution 2216, the GCC initiative, and the outcome of the National Dialogue Conference, acknowledged by the international community as the elements of international legitimacy.”