S&P affirms Saudi Arabia’s credit ratings


Saudi Gazette report

— S&P Global Ratings on Monday affirmed Saudi Arabia’s credit ratings, saying the Kingdom’s reforms could make it attractive to investors.

The agency maintained its “A-/A-2” ratings on Saudi Arabia and said its outlook was stable, citing expectations the government would take steps to consolidate public finances in the next two years.

S&P said that structural reforms “could empower Saudi citizens and make Saudi Arabia more attractive to investors over the medium term, as the authorities intend.”

Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, last year unveiled his Vision 2030 program of economic and social reforms for a post-oil era and has recently announced a host of multi-billion-dollar mega projects, including a futuristic megacity with robots and driverless cars.

A Saudi Finance Ministry budget report released on Sunday put the Kingdom›s total third quarter revenue at SR142.1 billion ($37.9 billion), up 11 percent year-on-year.

Saudi Arabia reported a budget deficit of SR48.7 billion in the third quarter. Spending rose to SR190.9 billion, an increase of 5 percent year-on-year.

Non-oil revenue jumped 80 percent year-on-year to SR47.8 billion in the third quarter. The Finance Ministry said this showed the Kingdom’s economic reforms, which aim to cut its reliance on oil income, were feasible.

Minister of Finance Muhammad Abdullah Al-Jadaan said the figures in the report indicate noticeable progress in the performance of the state budget for this quarter. It included more improvement in revenues, rise in public spending efficiency, decreasing deficit, while maintaining the standard of basic services provided to the citizens, as one of the priorities of government spending.

The report results show a rise in revenues compared to the results of the third quarter in 2016, aside from an 80 percent rise in nonoil revenues during the same period.

The report shows that the Kingdom’s government is continuing rationalization of spending that will be beneficial positively for citizens.

Minister of Finance said: “The announced figures for the budget performance reflect our continuing progress towards achieving the long-term economic reform plans.”

Al-Jadaan added: “Despite the economic challenges that are still existent, the economic reforms and measures that came in the program for achieving financial balance within the Kingdom Vision 2030 have proved their efficacy. They have contributed to generating more nonoil revenues. We are making progress in building a stronger and more diverse economy.” — With AFP