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MENAFN - Qatar News Agency - 26/12/2013

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(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf said that the Saudi's public reserves of about SR1.6 trillion would be used wisely to support the economy.

"The amount will be invested in non-risky ventures after conducting detailed studies," he told a Saudi channel Tuesday night

Speaking about the SR206 billion surplus in 2013, he said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has approved an allocation of SR24 billion from the surplus to finance strategic road projects including the Jazan-Jeddah Expressway, SR20 billion for railway projects and SR10 billion to the Saudi Credit Bank

The rest would be kept in reserve, he said

Economist Ihsan Buhulaiga told the English daily "Arab News" that the Kingdom's huge public reserves would enable it to balance the budget when oil revenues fall, without borrowing from others

However, he said more effort must be made to increase GDP growth to more than five percent in the coming years

Saudi private sectors contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to exceed 58.75% in 2013, the Finance Ministry said in a statement

In real terms, GDP for 2013 is estimated to grow by 3.8% compared to 5.81% last year

The oil sector is estimated to decline by 0.61% while the government sector is estimated to grow by 3.73% and the private sector by 5.5% in 2013, the statement said

All components of nonoil GDP recorded positive and healthy growth in 2013
Specifically, nonoil industrial sector is estimated to grow by 4.72%; construction by 8.11%; transport, storage and communication sector by 7.20%; wholesale, retail, restaurants, and hotels by 6.16%; and finance, insurance and real estate by 4.86%. The budget projected a modest 4.3% rise in spending in 2014, suggesting the Kingdom is starting to slow expenditure growth after three years of huge increases. The rise in planned spending is far smaller than the 19% leap envisaged by the 2013 budget plan.


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