DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabian Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said increased oil-driven revenues will cover the higher spending ordered by King Abdullah earlier this year, the website of al-Eqtisadiah newspaper reported on Sunday.
At the height of the Arab protests this year, Saudi Arabia announced it would spend an estimated $130 billion on social benefits and housing, a figure equivalent to nearly a third of its annual gross domestic product.
“The increase in income will cover the increase in spending,” the newspaper quoted him as saying at a conference in Riyadh.
“Even as the global economy is going through some challenges, the Saudi economy is one of the few in the world that has healthy growth,” he added.
Saudi Arabia’s budget spending has more than doubled over the past decade to a record 580 billion Saudi riyals planned for 2011 before the announcement of the king’s handouts.
The kingdom, which has accumulated a record $500 billion reserves thanks to robust oil prices, launched a five-year, $400 billion development plan in 2008, the biggest spending package relative to gross domestic product among the world’s top 20 developed nations, to upgrade infrastructure, including airports and roads.