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MENAFN - 07/10/2012

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(MENAFN) Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf has described the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) projections that Saudi Arabia will see a deficit by 2016 as a "doomsday scenario", Reuters reported.

The IMF said previously that it expects Saudi Arabia's budget surpluses to gradually decline before dropping into deficit by 2016.

In its report, the IMF explained that its base scenario saw a fiscal deficit of 0.6 percent of gross domestic product by 2016, compared to the budget surplus of 12 percent of GDP it predicts for this year.

It cautioned that the forecast, which included the deficit widening to 2.5 percent of GDP in 2017, involved great uncertainty.

The projection was based on retreating oil prices as the euro zone debt crisis weighs on the global economy and slows energy demand.

The world's top oil exporter has run large budget surpluses since 2009 but the IMF said in a report last month that falling energy prices would impact the Kingdom's fiscal position.

Alassaf said Saudi Arabia was ready to tap its foreign currency reserves, equivalent to more than 100 percent of GDP, if energy prices fall.

He added that he was not willing to speculate what the Kingdom's budget surplus or deficit may look like by 2016.

 






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