Saudi king allocates $2.7 bln for social loans

Aims at easing fallout from global crisis

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Saudi Arabia plans to extend 10 billion riyals ($2.7 billion) in credit to low-income citizens as the oil-producer giant steps up efforts to contain the fallout from the global financial crisis.

Saudi King Abdullah ordered that the additional funds be deposited in the Saudi Credit Bank, which was established to extend interest-free loans to Saudi citizens with limited resources to help them overcome financial difficulties.

Saudi Minister of Finance Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf told the official SPA news agency, " This kind royal gift comes as an extension of the King's decisions and directives aiming to sense the needs of citizens, especially citizens of limited income."

Assaf noted that hundreds of thousands of needy families will benefit from this amount.

The amount of SR10 billion along with the current resources of the bank will be allocated for social loans including loans provided for marriage, family and restoration of houses.

The move comes on the heels of an emergency meeting of Gulf finance ministers and central bankers held in Riyadh on Saturday which was aimed at better coordinating the response to a global downturn that threatens to brake their region's six-year economic boom.