Riyadh, March 21 (IANS) Saudi Arabia predicted that the deficit of the 2020 state budget will range between 7 to 9 per cent amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan stressed the country’s financial and economic capability to deal with the coronavirus crisis with flexibility, by means of reducing expenditures or borrowing, Xinhua news agency quoted a state media report as saying.

Some of the state’s budget appropriations will be reviewed and reallocated to the sectors most in need in the current situation, including the health sector, said al-Jadaan.

Besides, an emergency budget was introduced to cover any costs that may arise during the development of this global crisis, he added.

The recent decision to reduce expenditures by 50 billion Saudi Riyals ($13 billion) will cover unnecessary services in various sectors, including entertainment and sports, al-Jadaan noted, while assuring the reduction won’t affect the ability to pay contractors and suppliers.

The Minister also revealed that the expectations indicate that the debt won’t exceed 100 billion riyals this year.

Al-Jadaan said that to assist the private sector to deal with the implications of the precautionary measures against the virus, the government allocates 70 billion riyals for initiatives related to exemptions and postponement of some government dues to provide liquidity to businesses.

On Friday, the Saudi Health Ministry announced 70 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number to 344.

–IANS

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