By Nabila Rahal
Ahmed Alkholifey, head of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, says he is confident the country's economy will weather the storm but cautions against early optimism
The governor of the Saudi Central Bank on Wednesday urged caution on the kingdom's economic recovery from the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Although Ahmed Alkholifey, head of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), said he was confident the country’s economy will weather the storm, he cautioned against early optimism.
Speaking at the 15th virtual edition of the Euromoney Saudi Arabia conference, Alkholifey said: “When you have a patient on life support, you have to be careful regarding what happens when that life support is unplugged,” he said.
“We feel confident but we cannot really relax as long as we are in the midst of the crisis," he added.
While 2020 started on a positive note for Saudi Arabia’s economy, with forecasts of an overall growth of 2 percent by end of year, Covid-19 quickly put a halt to those expectations.
Decreased oil prices and a global economic slowdown were the main outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses in Saudi Arabia.
In June, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that the Saudi GDP will likely shrink by 6.8 percent by the end of the year, compared to a 5 percent regression of the global economy.
Alkholifey outlined a series of initiatives and stimulus packages which were introduced by SAMA to counter the impacts of the crisis. Saudi Arabia has spent more than $57 billion on a total of 142 such initiatives, which included support for both the public and private sector.
According to Alkholifey, the pandemic accelerated the growth of the FinTech sector in the kingdom, which falls in line with the Financial Sector Development Program Vision 2030, developed by SAMA.
Speaking at the Euromoney event on Tuesday, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of Economy and Planning, said the country's economy was in recovery mode after facing one of its most challenging years for a century.
He said: "The Saudi people were able to adopt and lead the charge, with exceptional talents that worked hard 24 hours a day to control Covid-19 and prepare the national economy for recovery."
Al-Jadaan said Vision 2030 reforms provided a strong platform for Saudi Arabia to have a "quick and positive response" to the pandemic.