Saudi Arabia’s Budget Forum titled “Trends of State’s General Budget”, organized by the Saudi Ministry of Finance, began its sessions on Wednesday in Riyadh.
Minister of Finance Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan; Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammed bin Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri and Governor of Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority Dr. Ahmed Abdul Karim Al-Khulaifi participated in the first session.
Al-Tuwaijri began the session by stating that the economic growth being witnessed by the Kingdom is very reassuring, especially as this growth was in line with the expectations of 2018 and met the plans and programs of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 for 2018, as well as the role of economic diversification.
He added that direct foreign investments doubled by over 110 percent in 2018. He stated that these investments need a complete infrastructure of legislation and laws. He said that in accordance with Vision 2030, the ministry is working to increase the government’s efficiency to attract more investments and support the private sector.
The minister also said that the participation of the private sector was effective, and the main objective of growth is to be reflected in terms of citizens’ incomes and lives.
The comments by Mohammed al-Tuwaijri came a day after the government announced a $295 billion budget, the kingdom's biggest ever.
Al-Tuwaijri explained that the number of licenses granted to foreigners doubled to 705 licenses in 2018 while the value of foreign investments increased by 100 percent to 13 billion dollars.
With regard to the results achieved during 2018 in terms of the Kingdom's economic growth, he said that the growth was expected to be at 1.8 percent, yet continued efforts and collective action of all governmental agencies concerned and the cooperation of the private sector, made the growth rate exceeds the expectation with 2.3 percent.
He expressed hope for the growth rate to reach 2.6 percent in 2019, based on plans developed according to the ongoing governmental support through major projects with the continuation of stimulating the private sector to participate in national economic growth.
Al-Tuwaijri said that Saudi Arabia expects its unemployment rate to decrease starting from 2019 from its current level of 12.9 percent.
"The figure is 12.9 percent. We expect it to start retreating from 2019," Minister Mohamed Tuwaijri told a press conference after the budget announcement.
He added that the contribution of Saudi citizens in the labor market is currently 42 percent.
The minister also stressed the importance of sustainability in the development process including the goals of Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which seeks to make the economy not depend on the impacts of oil prices.