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Saudi foreign reserves fall to lowest record in 20 years

April 30, 2020 at 11:02 am

A bank in Saudi Arabia [Argaam Plus/Twitter]

Saudi Arabia’s Monetary Authority said on Tuesday that the kingdom’s net foreign assets, which include securities such as US Treasuries and foreign deposits, fell by $27 billion in March reaching $464 billion; the lowest levels recorded in 20 years.

Saudi Finance Minister Mohamed Al-Jadaan said last week that the kingdom will not withdraw more than $32 billion from its reserves this year and will instead resort to increasing borrowing to about $60 billion to accommodate the growing deficit.

Yesterday, the Saudi Finance Ministry said the first quarter budget deficit amounted to $9 billion, mainly due to declining oil revenues, compared to the surplus of $7.4 billion recorded in the first quarter of 2019.

READ: As oil prices plummet, Saudi Aramco pursues $10bn loan 

According to the ministry, oil revenues fell in the first three months of this year by 24 per cent year on year to $34 billion; causing total revenues to decline 22 per cent year on year.

Non-oil revenues decreased in the first quarter of this year by 17 per cent compared to the same period last year while revenues from taxes on goods and services have also fallen, indicating a total economic slowdown in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia expected a deficit of $50 billion, or 6.4 per cent of the GDP this year, a sharp increase from the $35 billion recorded last year.

Al-Jadaan said the deficit may reach nine per cent of the GDP, but some analysts expect a deficit of about 22 per cent with the price of oil reaching $30 per barrel.