27/09/2017 13:26 AST

While the global economic growth rate declined from 3.4 percent in 2015 to 3.1 percent last year, the Kingdom’s economy grew by 1.7 percent, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) reported.

King Salman’s “wise leadership was keen on improving citizens’ standard of living, thus the pace of expenditure was maintained throughout the year, and our total spending reached SR830.5 billion ($221.45 billion),” said SAMA Gov. Dr. Ahmed bin Abdulkarim Alkholifey. “This contributed to mitigating the impact of declining oil prices on the local economy and government services.”

Alkholifey cited “several strategic initiatives to achieve a sustainable, adaptable and globally competitive economy with diversified production and sufficient job opportunities.” He added: “International experiences of economic reforms are proof that the vital and promising structural developments through which our national economy is going to need more time to accommodate, integrate and adapt its different sectors.”

Alkholifey cited various positive indicators, including total assets of commercial banks increasing by 2.2 percent to more than SR2.5 trillion; bank credit to the private and public sectors increasing by 2.8 percent to about SR1.4 trillion; and the banking sector’s profitability remaining high compared to global performance, with a return on assets of 1.8 percent and a return on equity of 12.6 percent by the end of 2016.

He said SAMA’s 53rd annual report showed that banks continued to provide modern and comprehensive financial services through diverse channels across the Kingdom.

“SAMA is focused on raising financial awareness and improving financial inclusion across Saudi Arabia. We hope this will contribute remarkably to diversifying the economy,” he said.

The Financial Sector Development Program, approved by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, aims to increase the financial sector’s efficiency in supporting the development of the national economy, diversifying its income sources, and enhancing the sector’s ability to promote saving, financing and investing, Alkholifey added.

“In order to achieve this, we seek to empower financial institutions to support private sector growth,” he said.

“The program is also keen on building a sophisticated financial market, improving the saving system and financial planning, and enabling the sector to maintain harmony in achieving other strategic objectives, particularly the stability of the financial sector.”

Alkholifey said SAMA is working to fulfill its mission by meeting the needs of the national economy and achieving Vision 2030. King Salman commended the agency’s efforts to serve the economy.

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