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Saudi Arabia will use this year’s oil windfall to accelerate the economy’s diversification from fossil fuels, according to a minister.
The Saudi government will focus on initiatives to grow the non-oil economy in 2023 but won’t boost fiscal spending, Faisal Alibrahim, minister of economy and planning, said in an interview at the Davos conference in Switzerland. The kingdom’s in discussions with companies from all over the world to get them to move some of their operations to the country, he said.
Saudi Arabia will be the fastest-growing Group of 20 economy this year after India, according to Bloomberg’s surveys of analysts, with oil having climbed almost 50% since the end of 2021 to $110 a barrel. Gross domestic product will surpass $1 trillion for the first time, the International Monetary Fund forecasts.
Saudi Arabia’s posted a $15.3 billion budget surplus in the first quarter as officials kept spending restrained despite surging income from exports of crude and refined fuel. The kingdom expects a full-year surplus of $24 billion.
Still, the government has raised spending in the kingdom through its $600 billion wealth fund, which is separate from the budget. The Public Investment Fund is investing billions of dollars in everything from tourism resorts to electric vehicles in a bid to help the economic transition.
The government hopes the private sector will grow to contribute 65% of economic output by the end of the decade, up from around 51% today, under a plan by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman known as Vision 2030.
“The windfall from the additional revenues that we will get from high oil prices will be essentially invested in resilience,” Alibrahim said. “Whether it’s replenishing reserves, paying off debt or investing in unique transformational projects through our wealth fund -- that really helps us accelerate the diversification plans.”
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