RIYADH, March 16 Saudi Arabia's economy can
achieve growth of 4.4 percent in 2014, in line with a forecast
by the International Monetary Fund, the central bank governor
said on Sunday.
"We see that the private sector will be the main growth
driver this year. Government investments continue to be the main
driver for private sector growth, so I am optimistic," Fahad
al-Mubarak told an annual news conference.
"I do not see high risks in specific areas."
The country's economic growth slowed to 3.8 percent in 2013
from 5.8 percent in the previous year as oil output, which
accounts for nearly half of overall gross domestic product, fell
after a robust increase in 2012.
Actual government budget spending rose by a modest 6 percent
in 2012 and by the same rate in 2013 after a jump of over 26
percent in 2011, when the Gulf monarchy boosted social handouts
at a time of Middle East unrest.
A Reuters poll of analysts in January this year predicted
that inflation-adjusted GDP would expand 4.2 percent in 2014 and
4.3 pct in 2015.
Inflation in the desert kingdom is forecast at 3.0 percent
this year by the IMF, Mubarak also said, citing the Fund's
latest available prediction.
"I expect this will be reasonable. Results for the first few
months of the year are less than 3 percent."
Consumer price growth eased to 2.8 percent year-on-year in
February, the lowest level since September 2012 when the
statistics office launched its new rebased price index.