Saudi budget surplus hits $103 billion

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said yesterday its budget surplus in 2012 hit 386 billion riyals ($102.93bn) as oil-dominated revenues continued to rise, state television Al Ekhbariyah reported.

It also announced what it described as a record budget for the coming year, with expenditure expected at $218.7bn and revenues amounting to $221bn.

The world’s largest exporter of crude oil traditionally uses a conservative price for oil in its budget. Oil revenues amounted to 92 per cent of total revenues in 2012, the channel said, citing a finance ministry statement.

Revenues in 2012 amounted to 1,239bn riyals ($330.4bn), while expenditure hit 853bn riyals ($227.5bn), the ministry said.

The kingdom had expected a small surplus of 12bn riyals ($3.2bn) in 2012, with revenues expected to reach 702bn riyals ($187.2bn) and expenditure increasing only to 690bn riyals ($184bn).

In 2013, revenues are projected to reach 829bn riyals ($221.06bn), while expenditure is planned at 820bn riyals ($218.7bn), the news channel reported.

“The council of ministers has passed the largest budget in the history of the kingdom,” it said.

Finance Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf told ministers that real growth in the kingdom’s gross domestic product is expected to be 6.8pc, with 5.5pc growth in the oil sector and 7.2pc in other sectors.

He put the rise in inflation in 2012 at 2.9pc compared with the previous year, and 4.5pc compared with the benchmark year of 1999, according to the official SPA news agency. Saudi Arabia continues to use part of its surplus to repay its public debt. Assaf said debt by the end of 2012 will stand at 98.848bn riyals ($26.36bn) compared with 135.5bn riyals (36.1bn) at the beginning of the year.

gulf-daily-news, December 30, 2012