A statement by the Finance Ministry predicted gross domestic product growth (GDP) of 2.3 per cent in 2002 at current prices, to reach SR 695,000 million, and real growth of 0.74 per cent to SR 644,000 million. The current account is expected to show a surplus of SR 33,700 million compared with a surplus of SR 35,100 million in 2001.

The Ministry said that the private sector was the main source of growth, accounting for 46 per cent of GDP and showing 4.2 per cent real growth (MEED 1:11:02). All private sector components grew in real terms, but those singled out as having performed particularly well were the non-oil industrial sector at 5.7 per cent; the communication and transport sector at 7.1 per cent; the electricity, gas and water sector at 4.5 per cent; and the construction sector at 3 per cent. Non-oil exports are predicted to record 1.2 per cent growth over the whole year to reach SR 31,100 million or 12.1 per cent of total exports.

Domestic debt was estimated at SR 637,500 million and external debt at SR 75,000 million. The Finance Ministry spoke of the government’s ongoing privatisation efforts, including the sale of 30 per cent of Saudi telecom beginning on 17 December, revenues from which should help reduce the burden of debt (MEED 18:10:02).

Exchange rate: $1 = SR 3.75