Saudi Finance Minister Says Can Endure Low Oil Prices Over Medium Term

Alassaf said everybody expected prices to rise eventually but there was a difference over when.



Saudi Arabia can endure low oil prices over the medium term, Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf said on Thursday after releasing a 2015 budget that envisions record state spending and a large deficit that will be covered by fiscal reserves.

Speaking in an interview on Saudi television, Alassaf said the government would continue spending actively on economic development projects “over the medium term”.

Asked by the interviewer whether he meant three to five years, Alassaf replied: “Yes, over three to five years…The (economic) depth we have, God willing, will be enough until prices get better.”

Brent crude oil has tumbled to just above $60 a barrel from $115 in June. Alassaf said everybody expected prices to rise eventually but there was a difference over when; some people said the second half of next year while others said 2016.

“We have the ability to endure low oil prices over the medium term,” he said.