Saudi Arabia's foreign assets fall to lowest level in four years

Saudi Arabia’s net foreign assets fell for a 15th month in April, as the kingdom announced its “vision” for a post-oil future.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency said on Sunday net foreign assets declined 1.1 per cent to US$572 billion, the lowest level in four years. The slump in crude prices has forced the government to sell bonds and draw on its currency reserves, still among the world’s largest. Net foreign assets fell by $115bn last year, when the kingdom ran a budget deficit of nearly $100bn.

The fiscal crunch has pushed Saudi Arabia to look beyond oil, consider new taxes and plan an initial public offering of state energy major Saudi Aramco. The Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sketched out the planned changes dubbed Saudi Vision 2030 on April 25.

The strain on reserves had also fuelled speculation that the kingdom will adjust its decades-old riyal peg to the dollar. But the new central bank governor Ahmed Alkholifey told Al Arabiya on Thursday that Saudi Arabia does not plan to change its exchange rate policy.b

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