Mohammed Al-Jadaan, the Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of Economy and Planning; said in a statement on Friday that SR150bn ($40bn) was transferred from SAMA's to Public Investment Fund (PIF). This was exceptionally during March and April of this year.
The minister said that while foreign exchange (FX) flows are on average within historical norms; a noticeable decline in FX reserves is due to the transfer. As PIF investments do not appear on SAMA published data.
Al-Jadaan emphasized that the transfer to the PIF was out after a comprehensive consultation considering the adequacy of FX reserves.
The minister clarified that the government continues to implement its development plans that support growth and economic diversification. They also enhance the role of the private sector and support local content; whether through the state's general budget. Or through the role played by the development funds and the PIF to improve economic performance. Besides, enhancing the return on the Kingdom's assets.
He said that decisions to gradually reopen economic activities represent a new stage in the face of the global pandemic crisis and toward a gradual return to economic activities in the Kingdom to its normal levels.
In this regard, the minister highlighted that the government has increased; during the last period through the state's general budget, spending on urgent and necessary requirements to face the crisis. As it has significantly strengthened the financial allocations for the health and related services sector.
In addition, the government launched urgent support initiatives to mitigate the impact on the private sector, supporting the economy and to preserve the jobs of citizens in economic establishments, as previously announced. This required reducing spending in other areas to maintain the same level of spending that was approved in the state's budget, especially in light of the sharp decline in oil and non-oil revenues expected for this year that was affected by the crisis.
The government will continue to finance development projects through the state's general budget with a focus of attention toward continuing to raise efficiency in spending and maximizing economic and social returns. The minister also affirmed the government's continued support to increase private sector opportunities in infrastructure projects which fall in line within the framework of enhancing the role and participation of the government supported private sector affected by the temporary suspension of many economic activities and to overcome the negative effects associated with the global pandemic crisis.
Regarding the decisions to reduce precautionary measures to resume economic activity, the minister stressed the importance of all entities and individuals in adhering to health guidelines at every stage of the plan to resume economic activities. The return of activities to their previous level largely depends on the level of commitment by all. The minister further noted that the move comes concurrently with developments facing the pandemic globally, as countries prepare to gradually restore the movement of economic activities and return to normal conditions, considering the difficulty of anticipating the duration of the global spread of the virus.
Al-Jadaan also noted that the decision to gradually return to economic activities taken after continuous coordination with the Ministry of Health and related authorities; which will contribute to the gradual improvement of economic performance. The minister also confirmed that government efforts are continuing through work teams; including experts in health, security, energy, economics, finance, human resources, commerce and other sectors. These teams assess periodically and comprehensively the health, social and economic dimensions of options for reopening economic activities.
Al-Jadaan added: "The government succeeded in responding early to this pandemic by raising the capacity of the health sector. Besides, imposing strict health precautions met with great response and high awareness from citizens and residents. These precautions led to a significant slowdown in local economic activity, in conjunction with global economic activity.
The government responded with a set of support initiatives that targeted private sector establishments, investors and individuals. It is also time to restore the movement to economic activity."
Reaffirming the dedication of King Salman, with continuous monitoring from Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman; in continuing the plans and initiatives to support and preserve economic gains. Besides, working to develop the local economy by all possible tools including supporting national industries and products; along with keeping in line with international developments in dealing with the pandemic.
His also stressed that following the guidelines for social distancing by all individuals and establishments is a major factor in avoiding a return to the suspension of economic activities if health conditions deteriorate.
The Kingdom was one of the first countries to take firm, preventive and precautionary actions to limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and it has succeeded, by the Grace of God, and then the continuous coordination and close monitoring of the wise leadership, providing all the needs and requirements during the preceding stage in dealing with the pandemic crisis significantly.
The Kingdom is considered among the countries that recorded the lowest death rates among the infected in the world. The Kingdom also recorded very high recovery rates; which is a result of the wise proactive policies that the Saudi government took during the past period. In addition to the active cooperation and responsibility of both the citizens and the residents.
The government has also continuously sought to monitor the performance and support of various private sector activities; by launching several initiatives between direct support, delaying receipts from the private sector, exemptions, expansion of lending and wage support. All of which have been undertaken with the main objective of mitigating the negative effects of the precautionary measures taken on the private sector.