Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister says that the country is undergoing a number of important changes and reforms under King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud that will assist in the efforts to spearhead growth.

“The kingdom is witnessing very important changes – at political and economic levels,” said Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, speaking at the Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference 2015 in Riyadh on 5 May. “The most recent was the allegiance to [the new] Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef al-Saud and [the appointment of] Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud.”

In addition to the changes made in key political roles, Al-Assaf also highlighted the institutional reforms that have been made in recent weeks.

“The decision to have two councils – the first is for security and political affairs and the second is development and economic council – will help us accelerate decision making and will help governments in business and increase the investment attractiveness [of the kingdom].”

Al-Assaf said that the lower oil prices were creating a challenge to oil exporting countries, including Saudi Arabia, but said that the kingdom had the financial capacity to continue expenditure in key areas to facilitate future growth.

The finance minister said that a total of 2,572 government projects were unveiled in 2014, with a total value of about $50bn.

Alassaf said that he believed that the global economy was moving out of recession and towards growth, and that he was optimistic about Europe and Japan’s growth prospects.