Saudi Arabia unveils its largest budget in history
Saudi King Abdullah on Monday unveiled the kingdom’s largest budget in history, earmarking expenditures at SR410 billion ($109.33 billion) and revenues at SR450 billion ($120 billion). It has allocated a record SR105 billion for education and training.
“This is the largest budget for the Kingdom and larger than last year’s budget by SR30 billion,” the king told a budget session of the Council of Ministers, according to Arab News. “We have given instructions that the country’s revenues must be utilized to achieve sustained development in all sectors,” he added.
King Abdullah noted that more than a quarter of the new budget has been set aside for human resource development including higher education, and technical and vocational training. “The budget will also boost scientific research and technological development,” the monarch said.
Special allocations have also been made to train teachers, develop academic curricula and improve education atmosphere, with SR39 billion set aside for building schools, universities and training centers and institutes.
The new budget has allocated SR44.5 billion for health and social development as well as for fighting poverty and supporting sports and youth welfare projects. The king also disclosed plans to establish a number of new hospitals, health centers, medical colleges and university hospitals. “We have also allocated SR7 billion to upgrade judicial facilities and meet the requirements of the new Judiciary Law and Court of Grievances Law,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted the king as saying.
Speaking at the budget session, Finance Minister Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf predicted that the gross domestic product in 2007 would reach SR1.414 trillion (US$377 billion) on current prices. He said the private sector would make a growth rate of 5.9 percent in 2007 at stable prices with nonoil industries making a growth of 8.6 percent, telecom, transport and storage sectors 10.6 percent, construction 6.9 percent, electricity, gas and water 4.4 percent, wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants six percent, and financial services, real estate and insurance four percent.
He also announced that public debts would fall to 19 percent of the GDP or SR267 billion by the end of 2007, compared with 28 percent of the GDP in 2006.