Statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde at the Conclusion of her Visit to Saudi ArabiaPress Release No. 15/503
November 9, 2015
Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issued the following statement today at the conclusion of her visit to Saudi Arabia:
“It has been a great pleasure to visit Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where I had the privilege of meeting The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. We discussed the global and regional economic outlook and the current policy challenges facing Saudi Arabia. I conveyed my appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s support of the IMF. The IMF enjoys a strong relationship with the Saudi Arabian authorities, and I reiterated the IMF’s readiness to continue to help the authorities through a policy dialogue tailored to the needs and circumstances of the Saudi Arabian economy.
“I also had fruitful discussions with the Minister of Finance H.E. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, the Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) H.E. Fahad Almubarak, and the Chairman of the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) H.E. Mohammed Al-Jadaan. We discussed the Saudi Arabian economy, which has performed strongly in recent years, but is now facing the challenge of adjusting to the sharp drop in oil prices.
“Prudent fiscal management has helped build-up substantial policy buffers over the past decade, but reforms that would put the large fiscal deficit on a firm downward path are needed. The banking sector is in a strong position to weather lower oil prices and weaker growth. SAMA is also continuing to strengthen its regulation and supervision of the financial sector. Nevertheless, the banking system will need to continue to be carefully monitored in the period ahead.
“The decline in oil prices has increased the importance of reforms to switch the focus of growth from the public sector to the private sector. It is important that the government accelerate reforms that increase the employment of nationals in the private sector and diversify the economy away from oil. Continued reforms to expand employment opportunities for women would also bring more well-educated and motivated workers into the workforce and strengthen growth prospects.”