Saudis premature in celebrating finance minister’s departure
Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov.2
By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:
The decision to replace Saudi Arabia’s finance minister is unlikely to mark a shift in the Kingdom’s approach to dealing with the fallout from lower oil prices, according to the analysts of the UK Capital Economics consulting company.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a royal decree replacing Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, with Mohammed al-Jadaan, a former lawyer and previously head of the Capital Markets Authority.
“While Al-Assaf’s role as finance minister inevitably placed him in the spotlight as fiscal austerity hit, he was not solely responsible for formulating economic policy,” said the Capital Economics report obtained by Trend.
In fact, as chair of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has played an increasingly influential role in driving economic policy in the Kingdom, including the government’s efforts to wean the country off oil, said the analysts.
The analysts believe that Al-Jadaan’s first major job will be to deliver the 2017 budget towards the end of this year.
“As we argued recently, the majority of spending cuts have probably now happened, so we expect he will be able to outline plans to ease the pace of fiscal consolidation over the next couple of years. But austerity is far from over and many Saudis may have been premature in celebrating Al-Assaf’s departure.