Saudi Arabia, along with other oil-dependent countries, will face challenges in the coming period because of the decline in oil prices in international markets, Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf says.
Just like the other countries whose economies are heavily dependent on oil revenues, Saudi Arabia is required to introduce precautionary and pre-emptive measures to deal with the oil price issue.
Addressing a meeting in Riyadh, Al-Assaf urges oil producers to continue with their economic reform programs, pursue economic diversification, expand the public revenues base and rationalise spending.
The Saudi government estimated the 2015 budget at SAR860 billion ($229bn) and revenues at SAR715bn ($191bn), expecting a deficit of SAR145bn ($38.6bn).
However, the kingdom, which is the world’s largest oil exporter, achieved a strong growth rate in the past five years, averaging 5 per cent each year, according to the minister.
He also notes that non-oil sectors delivered strong growth of over 5 per cent annually, which helped in offsetting the impact of oil fluctuations.
In remarks carried by Al Jazeera Online at the opening of the Euromoney Saudi Arabia 2015 conference, Al-Assaf reveals that his country tendered public projects worth $49bn in the past year.
Speaking at the same gathering, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi says he is upbeat over Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas outlook under the new leadership of the country.
He adds that the kingdom will turn into a leading country in the petrochemical and manufacturing industries.
Al-Nuaimi expects the kingdom’s production of petrochemicals and related industries to grow to a massive 115 million tonnes by the end of 2016.