Saudi Arabia battles coronavirus with enviable war chest

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s has thrown its enviable war chest against coronavirus, the kingdom’s Finance and Economy Minister Muhammad al-Jadaan said.

“The Kingdom is facing the current global crisis from a position of strength, given the strength of its financial position and its huge reserves”, he told the virtual meeting of the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee held on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia has relatively low government debt, $180billion, which is 24 per cent of GDP, estimated at $786.5 billion.

Its forex reserves of $501.8billion is the fifth largest in the world after China’s $3.1 trillion, Japan $1.3trillion, Switzerland $795b and Russia $564b.

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Saudi Arabia’s financial muscle is evidenced by the recent positive reports from credit rating agencies, which confirmed the strength and durability of the Saudi economy and its ability to cope with the crises the world is currently witnessing,” al-Jadaan said.

Al-Jadaan was further quotes by the Saudi Press Agency as saying: “The priorities of the Saudi government aim to implement the precautionary measures to protect the health of citizens and residents, and to provide the necessary resources for health care systems, while providing financial and economic support to the groups most affected by the repercussions of this pandemic, and taking into account the re-prioritization of spending under the current circumstances,”

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Al-Jadaan stressed the importance of implementing fiscal and monetary measures that contribute to creating the conditions for a rapid economic recovery.

The measures must be transparent, target-oriented, and have a specific timeframe, in order to contain the financial risks and vulnerabilities of taking on debt.

The minster also highlighted the fiscal and economic measures taken by the Kingdom to lessen the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on both individuals and businesses.

More than 120 billion riyals, which is equivalent to about 4 percent of Saudi gross domestic product, has been allocated to implement those measures.

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Nine billion riyals has been allocated to protect the Saudis working in the private sector from losing their jobs and providing alternative income for those who lose income from their jobs.

The Saudi government also allocated on Wednesday 50 billion riyals to expedite the payment of the dues of the private sector.

The Kingdom also announced the deduction of 30 percent of electricity bills for the commercial, industrial and agricultural sectors, with a budget of 900 million riyals.

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