Saudi projects lower deficit of $53 bn in 2017

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia on Thursday projected a 2017 budget deficit of about $53 billion and a lower than expected shortfall for this year after government cost-cutting in response to lower oil prices.
Expenses next year will reach 890 billion riyals ($237 billion) against revenues of 692 billion riyals ($184 billion), the cabinet said in a statement.
It said this year’s deficit will be 297 billion riyals ($79 billion), down 8.9 per cent from 2016’s budget forecast.
“This budget comes at a time of a highly volatile economic situation… and which led to a slowdown in world economic growth and a drop in oil prices that impacted our country,” King Salman said on official television, with Finance Minister Mohammed Aljadaan seated nearby at a table of cabinet ministers.
Revenues for this year are expected to be 528 billion riyals, higher than projections a year ago of 513.75 billion, the cabinet said.
Spending is expected to come in at 825 billion riyals for 2016, 1.8 per cent lower than foreseen.
The world’s biggest oil exporter froze major building projects, cut cabinet ministers’ salaries and imposed a wage freeze on civil servants in the wake of last year’s record deficit of $97 billion.
Analysts said that figure was 15 per cent of gross domestic product, making it one of the largest in the emerging world. — AFP

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