Saudi foreign reserves drop further as oil price remains low

Friday 27/11/2015
Squeeze on state finances is mounting

RIYADH - Saudi foreign reserves dropped further in October as the price of oil remained low, but they fell at slower rate than previous months, according to a report released Wednesday.
The kingdom's foreign reserves dropped to $644 billion at the end of October, down from $651 billion the previous month, Jadwa Investment said.
Since the start of the year, Riyadh has withdrawn $88 billion from its foreign reserves to finance the budget due to the sharp fall in income from oil, which makes up over 90 percent of public revenues.
Jadwa however said that the rate of government withdrawals slowed down from the first half of 2015 partly due to the issuing of bonds to fund a budget deficit projected by the International Monetary Fund to be around $130 billion.
The Saudi finance ministry has issued bonds worth $20 billion for the domestic market.
The slowdown is also due to measures adopted by Riyadh to rationalise spending which has been growing at a rapid pace in the past few years.
In 2014, Saudi Arabia posted a budget deficit of $17.5 billion -- only its second shortfall since 2002.
Oil prices have crashed from around $115 a barrel in June last year to under $45 a barrel now.
The IMF has advised Saudi Arabia and other oil-dependent Gulf monarchies to cut spending, lift subsidies and diversify their economies, warning that failure to do so would deplete Saudi's foreign reserves.