SFD issues SR 37 billion in loans to stimulate economy in poor countries countries

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), a state-owned organization set up by the Kingdom with a mandate to provide financial assistance and to stimulate economic growth in poor countries, has disbursed SR 37 billion in aid and loans so far. This does not include a number of soft loans and term financing for various projects especially in Africa and Asia including an SR300 million loan facility to finance the irrigation projects in Egypt.
Yousef I. Al-Bassam, SFD’s vice president and managing director, made the announcement this week.
Al-Bassam said that the SFD had financed the execution of 504 projects in 80 needy countries across the globe. The loan to finance the irrigation projects in Egypt, where agriculture economy has suffered because of the uprisings, was also announced. The loan amount will be repayable over a period of five years.
This is in addition to the SFD’s deposit of SR3.75 billion in the Central Bank of Yemen a few days back to help Yemen stabilize its national currency and to cope with the current economic challenges. The SFD has also signed an SR206 million loan agreement with Mauritania to finance projects in energy and education sectors besides similar credit agreements with several other countries especially of Africa during the last two months.
Al-Bassam said that the SFD had been also providing guarantees for Saudi non-oil exports besides extending aid and loans to developing countries as well as Arab states. Some countries, which have benefited or remain SFD-funded projects, are still underway. The projects are in Morocco, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Gambia, Ethiopia, Mali, Sri Lanka, Syria, Indonesia, Jordon, Myanmar, Sierra Leone and Tajikistan.
He pointed out that, “the SFD’s developmental strategy was centered on supporting prioritized sectors within the economic and social development plans of the borrowing countries.”
Since the start of its financing activity in 1975, the SFD has provided a large number of loans for infrastructure projects and developmental works, said the SFD chief, adding that the beneficiary countries totaled 80 developing countries worldwide.
These countries include 43 in Africa, 27 in Asia and seven in other regions, he added. On the regional level, Saudi Arabia, apart from the SFD, has so far disbursed about a fifth of the much-needed aid it promised to Arab countries since uprisings erupted in the region last year, according to the IMF, which cited data from Riyadh’s finance ministry. Riyadh pledged a total of SR68 billion $17.9 billion in loans, grants and other support between the start of 2011 and June 1.
This amount is be disbursed among Arab countries in staggered schedule over the years, potentially making the Kingdom a key donor as Arab countries struggle to repair economic damage caused by the uprisings. It disbursed about SR14 billion of that amount during the period, according to a report released by the IMF. The Kingdom is also one of the largest providers of aid to Palestine, Yemen and to many impoverished Asian and African states.

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