Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz received in Riyadh yesterday Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) Hamad Al-Sayyari, who presented to him the 38th annual SAMA report for the fiscal year 2002.
Speaking on the occasion, Governor Al-Sayyari said the monetary and banking sectors had continued their growth in 2002, with banking deposits increasing by 16.8 percent, while banks' net foreign assets increased by 32.1 percent; and for the third consecutive year, the local stock market continued its good performance, leaving a positive impact on the monetary, banking and financial sectors. The State Budget for 2003, he said, had been formulated in a manner that could ensure the continuity of economic development programs, while realizing improvement in the citizens' standard of living, with over SR 22 billion [U.S. $5.87 billion] allocated for new projects as well as the expansion of existing projects in the areas of education, health, social affairs and infrastructure. He praised the Kingdom's sound economic policy, saying it has a positive impact and contributes to attracting investment. He noted that recent economic measures are aimed at diversifying sources of income, broadening the productive base and enhancing the role of the private sector in the development process as well as mobilizing local and foreign savings for investment in the productive and service sectors. Challenges facing the country's economy, he said, include a low rate in real economic growth, dependence on oil revenues, and the rapid growth in the population. In order to tackle this, it is necessary to improve the local economic environment and develop human resources.
Governor Al-Sayyari therefore called for removal of obstacles that impede the machinery of free enterprise; utilization of available resources in a proper manner; mobilization of local savings to make them conform with the requirements of growing investments; redoubled efforts to increase non-oil revenues; and tackling the problems of debt accumulation, which would have an adverse impact on the development process and investment projects. He praised decisions of the Supreme Economic Council on privatization, and the State's Saudization policy; and noted the importance of developing educational curricula and training programs to conform with the requirements of the labor market.