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Saudi Finance Minister: Local indicators promising after exiting COVID-19 lockdown

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The world has never seen a crisis like the one brought on by COVID-19, the Saudi Arabian Minister of Finance Muhammad Al-Jadaan said on Sunday.

He said the Kingdom has taken measures and has prioritized health and people over anything else.

To alleviate the effects of the crisis, the Kingdom’s Financial Market Authority and the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has disbursed financial support packages that constitute 3.4 percent of its gross domestic product, the finance minister said, speaking during the fifth financial stability seminar.

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In other G20 countries, support packages averaged 9 percent of GDP, Al-Jadaan said.

“Still, the impact in the Kingdom was more pronounced because its economy is expected to decline by 3.2 percent at the end of this year, compared to a decline of more than 6 percent in the G20 countries,” he added.

Al-Jadaan said, “They criticized us for the percentage of subsidies, but when we look at the impact of subsidies, we find that the Kingdom is one of the best 20 countries with a rate of contraction.”

He stressed that “the support packages exceeded 200 billion riyals, and the Saudi government was ready to directly target the support according to sectors so that its impact would be more clear.”

The Kingdom’s response to the novel coronavirus, as well as the response in several countries, was speedy, adding that “there was a clear harmony” between government institutions in working to confront the pandemic conditions.

He also indicated cooperation and harmony within the health sector’s public and private institutions.

The finance minister said, “There was speed and courage to get out of the general lockdown, and we began to see promising results in the Saudi economy, but the virus still exists and anxiety is present in the world, and most international institutions are glad to return to the economy.”

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