London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia announced its 2014 state budget on Monday, allocating a record 855 billion Saudi riyals (228 billion US dollars) on spending—much of it earmarked for schools, hospitals and to create jobs —representing a 4.3 percent rise in spending from 2013. Saudi Arabia’s projected spending in 2014 is equal to the country’s projected revenues of 855 billion Saudi riyals. This compares with an outlay of 820 billion Saudi riyals, and revenues of 829 billion Saudi riyals in the 2013 budget.
In a statement read out on his behalf at Monday’s cabinet meeting, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, announced: “With the praise of Allah, His help and guide, we announce the budget of the new fiscal year which amounts to 855 billion Saudi riyals, aiming to continue expenditure on programs and projects that further boost the march of sustainable development, create more job opportunities for citizens, and improve services.”
The statement, read out by Secretary-General of the Cabinet, Abdulrahman Bin Mohamed Al-Sahan, added: “This budget which we approve today is clear evidence of the great economic renaissance in our country. The resources available to it provide multiple opportunities for development. It is an extension of the accomplished achievements and the programs and projects being implemented which call for optimism for a better future.”
The statement continued: “We are determined to continue the process of sustainable development in our dear country to secure a decent life for its citizens, generation after generation.”
King Abdullah issued three royal decrees outlining the state’s budget for the fiscal year. The budget for 2014 allocates 37.542 billion Saudi riyals for the municipalities and rural compounds expenses, and estimates 4.436 billion Saudi riyals for the revenues of governorates, municipalities and rural compounds. King Abdullah also decreed that the difference between revenues and expenditures, 33.106 billion Saudi riyals, will be approved in the state’s general budget and disbursed in accordance with financial regulations.
Revenues for Saudi ports are estimated at 4.074 billion Saudi riyals, while expenditure has been approved at 1.752 billion Saudi riyals. Revenues and expenditure of the General Organization of Saudi Arabia Airlines are estimated at 26.595 billion Saudi riyals. Revenues and expenditure for the General Organization of Railways are estimated at 1.876 billion Saudi riyals. Revenues and expenditure of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAMA) are estimated at 308.490 million Saudi riyals.
The Saudi Ministry of Finance also announced the actual outcome for the 2013 fiscal year. According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), total revenue for 2013 is projected at around 1.13 trillion Saudi riyals, with expenditure of 925 billion Saudi riyals, leaving a 206 billion surplus. The Ministry confirmed that its expenditure had gone over budget by approximately 105 billion Saudi riyals due to “additional expenditure on projects in the Two Holy Mosques and other development and service projects, especially transportation, housing, and education.”
Preliminary estimates indicate that Saudi Arabia’s public debt will decline from approximately 98.8 billion Saudi riyals at the end of 2012 to 75.1 billion at end of 2013, representing less than 2.7 percent of projected GDP for 2013.