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Saudi Arabia: Budget Deficit Drops 71% | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Saudi man shows Saudi riyal banknotes at a money exchange shop, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo

Riyadh – Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said on Thursday that the Kingdom’s budget deficit fell by 71 percent in the first quarter of 2017, while state revenues jumped by a similar rate of 72 percent, reaching US$38.4 billion (144 billion riyals).

During a news conference held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance in Riyadh, Jadaan said that the data of the first quarter report reflected a rise in revenues, a remarkable improvement in the efficiency of spending and reducing the deficit, while basic services provided for citizens have topped priorities on the list of the governmental spending.

“This step applied for the first time in the history of the Ministry comes within the framework of the Government’s commitment to transparency and financial disclosure as it continues to implement the initiatives of National Transformation Program within the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030,” the minister stated.

Jadaan noted that total revenues for the first quarter amounted to SR 144 billion ($38.4 billion), an increase by 72% compared to the same period of last year, while non-oil revenues for the first quarter amounted to SR 32 billion ($8.5 billion), an increase of 1% compared to the same quarter of last year.

He added that total expenditures for the first quarter amounted to around SR 170 billion ($45.3 billion), down by 3% compared to the same quarter last year and the education and military sectors have had the largest percentage of the approved budget compared to other sectors by 23% and 21% of the total estimated budget respectively.

The Saudi finance minister also said that deficit in the first quarter amounted to around SR 26 billion ($6.9 billion), a decrease by 71% compared to the deficit of the same period last year.

He underlined that the trend to issue quarterly reports on the performance of the state budget has reflected the government’s serious efforts to enhance transparency and financial disclosure, noting that the quarterly report on the first quarter, which he said contained better indicators than initial estimates, showed remarkable progress towards achieving a balanced budget.

The minister stressed that the Kingdom was firmly on the right track towards building a more stable, diversified and solid economy, which is less affected by the fluctuations of global markets, especially in the oil sector.