Saudi Arabia’s council of ministers on Saturday agreed a record budget for 2013 with revenues expected to hit $221 billion (167 billion euros), state television Al-Ekhbariyah said.
Revenues in the oil-rich Gulf state are projected to reach 829 billion riyals ($221.06 billion), while expenditure is planned at 820 billion riyals ($218.7 billion), up 19 percent from the 690 billion riyals of expenditure for which it budgeted in 2012, Reuters reported finance ministry as saying.
“The council of ministers has passed the largest budget in the history of the kingdom,” the TV channel reported.
Next year’s budget plan envisages revenues of 829 billion riyals, compared to 702 billion riyals in the original plan for 2012, the TV report said. Actual revenues this year, buoyed by high oil prices, were 1.24 trillion riyals compared to the original plan for 702 billion riyals, it added.
“There is plenty of wealth, thanks be to Allah,” King Abdullah said, addressing his ministers, according to television footage.
"You have no excuse after today for any dereliction or complacency," he said, according to the television report.
Analysts say the Saudi government traditionally makes conservative projections for both spending and oil revenues, leaving room for actual expenditure and budget surpluses to come in larger than initially forecast.
Some 25 percent of the budgeted expenditure is earmarked to education, including building new schools, vocational training and scholarships abroad, according to a breakdown provided by the ministry.
Roads and transport are allocated 65 billion riyals ($17.3 billion), while water, agriculture and industry are to get 57 billion riyals ($15.2 billion).
The Saudi finance ministry said on Saturday the kingdom's budget surplus in 2012 hit 386 billion riyals ($102.93 bn) as oil-dominated revenues continued to rise.
In 2011, the kingdom registered also an impressive budget surplus of 306 billion riyals ($81.6 billion), as revenues turned out to be double the conservative forecast.
Revenues that year hit 1.110 trillion riyals ($296 billion) compared to a forecast of 540 billion riyals, while expenditure hit 804 billion riyals ($214.4 billion), after it was planned at 580 billion riyals.
On Saturday, Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf told ministers that real growth in the kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to be 6.8 percent in 2012, with 5.5 percent growth in the oil sector and 7.2 percent in other sectors.
He put the rise in inflation in 2012 at 2.9 percent compared with the previous year, and 4.5 percent compared with the benchmark year of 1999, according to the 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 98.848 billion riyals ($26.36 billion) compared with 135.5 billion riyals (36.1 billion) at the beginning of the year.
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