Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz yesterday received from Minister of Finance and National Economy Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf and SAMA Governor Dr. Hamad Al-Sayyari the 34th annual report of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA). The audience was attended by Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, Prince Sultan Ibn Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General, Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, Minister of State and Cabinet Member, and other high-ranking officials.
Dr. Al-Sayyari expressed particular pleasure at presenting SAMA's 34th annual report, which details economic developments in the Kingdom over the fiscal year 1997 (1417/1418 H), at the time when the Kingdom is celebrating the centennial anniversary of the event that led to its foundation by the King Abdul Aziz. He stated that the Saudi economy enjoys solid bases and clear policies which will support its growth and stability in the future. The components of these bases, he said, are an active private sector which contributes one third of the gross domestic product (GDP); the execution of balanced economic policies; the presence of the largest oil reserves in the world; and the Kingdom's status in the top five countries for reserves of natural gas.
Dr. Sayyari reported that the Kingdom's GDP registered a growth rate of 7.1 per cent in FY1997, a rate close to that realized in the previous year. He added that prices had been stable over recent years, and attributed this stability to a number of factors including competition in international markets, a decline in international prices for items exported from the Kingdom's main trade partners, and stability of currency exchange rates. He pointed out that the budget deficit in FY1997 decreased to 2.9 per cent compared to 14.4 percent in FY93, one of the positive developments in the Saudi economy. He also noted that the current account of the balance of payments, for the second year running, achieved a small surplus, amounting to SR 950 million (U.S. $ 2.53 million). This was due to the temporary improvement in oil prices in 1996 and 1997. He affirmed that the monetary policy continued to be directed towards the objective of promoting and maintaining stability in domestic prices and exchange rates.