1999 News Story

Finance minister at World Bank

Addressing the 60th session of the development committee of the World Bank in Washington DC

today, Minister of Finance and National Economy Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf referred to the recent

improvement in the global economy following the economic crises in East Asia, Latin America

and Europe. He praised the World Bank's role in facing these crises through lending

affected countries and providing them with technical assistance. He went on to express

support for the World Bank's new approach to the fight against poverty, which calls for

flexible application and consideration of special circumstances. He also welcomed the

initiative to alleviate the debts of poorer countries, but urged that enough resources be

made available from the industrialized countries to finance the additional costs of this

initiative in order to facilitate the efforts of multinational development institutions.

Dr. Al-Assaf praised the recent improvement in the growth rate of world trade and the World

Bank's current efforts to create a mechanism to alleviate the impact of price fluctuations

in basic commodities. Nevertheless, he called on the World Bank to address the issue of the

impact on developing countries of industrialized states' agricultural policies such as that

of subsidizing farmers. Referring to the upcoming multi-lateral round of negotiations for

membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr Al-Assaf called on the advanced

countries to ease the process for developing countries that have applied.
Yesterday, Dr. Al-Assaf met separately with U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and World

Bank President James Wolfensohn, with whom he discussed economic issues of mutual concern.

The meetings were attended by Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) Hamad

Al-Sayyari. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Al-Assaf praised the ability of the Saudi economy

to face crises, being based on a solid economic foundation and strong financial and

monetary systems. He went on to refer to the Saudi government's recent measures to

strengthen and coordinate economic policies and their implementation, that have resulted in

the establishment of the Higher Economic Council under the chairmanship of Crown Prince

Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard.

Referring to the improvement in the global economic situation in the Far East, Dr. Al-Assaf

nevertheless warned of challenges facing the international economy, such as the prospect of

a decline in the economic growth of the United States, a slowing down in the European

economy, and continuing difficulties in Russia.