Saudi Arabia will take strict and painful measures to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the finance minister said in an interview with Al Arabiya on Saturday, adding that “all options for dealing with the crisis are open”.
“We must reduce budget expenditures sharply”, Mohammed al-Jadaan said in comments published by Al Arabiya ahead of the interview’s broadcast.
Saudi Arabia’s central bank’s foreign exchange reserves fell in March at the fastest rate in at least 20 years. The kingdom slipped to a $9 billion budget deficit in the first quarter as oil revenues collapsed.
Jadaan noted that the country had introduced stimulus measures aimed at preserving jobs in the private sector and safeguarding the provision of basic services.
Earlier this week he said Riyadh could borrow around $26 billion more this year and would draw down up to $32 billion from its reserves to finance the deficit.
On Saturday he said withdrawals from the kingdom’s cash reserves this year must not exceed a total of between 110 billion riyals ($29 billion) and 120 billion, as specified in the budget.