Global : Saudi Arabia's 2006 Budget the surplus of SR55bn
Global Investment House – Saudi Arabic Economic & Strategic Outlook – Gross Domestic Product – Saudi Arabia's 2006 National Budget projected the revenues at SR390bn and expenditure at SR335bn resulting in the surplus of SR55bn. The revenues are 29.7% lower than the year 2005 actual figures of SR555bn. It is to be noted that the budgeted revenues of 2004 were also lower by 28% than the actual revenues reported in 2004 indicating the conservative estimates maintained by the government while preparing the budgets. However, the official projections of the oil and non-oil revenues are not released.
Summary of Government Finances
(in SR bn) 2002 (Actual) 2003 (Actual) 2004 (Actual) 2005 (Budgeted) 2005 (Actual) 2006 (Budgeted)
Total Revenue 213.0 293.0 393.0 280.0 555.0 390.0
Oil Revenue 166.1 231.0 345.0 231.0 N/A N/A
Other Revenue 46.9 62.0 48.0 49.0 N/A N/A
Total Expenditure 233.5 257.0 285.2 280.0 341.0 335.0
Capital Expenditure 30.0 39.4 45.0 75.5 N/A 126.0
Current Expenditure 203.5 217.6 240.2 204.5 N/A 209.0
Surplus/(Deficit) (20.5) 36.0 107.8 0.0 214.0 55.0
Sources: SAMA, Ministry of Finance
The 2006 budget projects expenditure at SR335bn, a decrease of SR6bn in expenditure from last year’s actual expenditure of SR341bn. Capital expenditure is estimated to account for SR126bn (37.6% of the total) while the current expenditure would account for the remaining SR209bn (62.4% of the total).
During the fiscal year 2005, Saudi Arabia originally had expected a balanced budget with both revenues and expenditure amounting to SR280bn. However, this was based on the conservative estimates with price assumptions and the estimates turned out to be far below actual levels as the Saudi Arabian Light Oil averaged US$49.9/barrel, far higher than the estimated value of US$25/barrel taken in 2005 budget. Also the production levels averaged 9.5mn bpd in 2005 which added to the resultant increase in the actual figures.
Both the revenues and expenditure recorded a steep increase from the 2005 budgeted numbers with the revenues exceeding by 98.2% over the 2005 budgeted revenues and the expenses exceeding by 22.8% over the expenditure estimated in 2005 budget. With revenues outpacing the expenditure the deficit as projected in 2005 budget was turned to a whopping surplus of SR214bn. It has been indicated that part of the surplus will be allocated to reduce the outstanding public debt and a substantial chunk will be used on the development projects.
According to our scenario analysis, we believe that Saudi Arabia is likely to post another surplus in the year 2006. Despite the oil prices easing, we hold firm our expectations that the Saudi Arabian Light price will not fall below US$40/barrel. Additionally, although OPEC production may be curbed in 2006, we maintain that the Saudi oil production levels will not fall below 7.5mn bpd in 2006 resulting in the oil & gas revenues of SR60bn in the worst case scenario. Regarding the other revenues, we have assumed that the other revenues will be slightly more than 2005 revenues.
On the expenditure side, we expect that the actual expenditure will be more than what is budgeted as has been the case in the past. Implementation of the new projects may also take its toll in boosting the overall spending bill. We expect expenditure to be SR375bn, which is about 11.9% more than what has been reported in the latest budget projections (SR335bn). All our scenarios bode well for the government coffers with our most likely scenario pegging the surplus to reach SR126.7bn. Therefore our forward-looking yardstick for assessing the Saudi Arabia’s performance for the current year leads us to believe Saudi Arabia’s sound fiscal position will remain an integral piece of a growing economy.
Focus on infrastructure –both social as well as economic...
Saudi Arabia’s continuing stress on improving the skills of its nationals is evident from the allocations of the recently announced 2006 budget. Manpower development continued to account for the largest allocation in the budget and received SR87.3bn (26.1% of the total outlays) for 2006. This is up by about 25% from the last year outlay of SR69.9bn. The government’s intention is to improve the primary education which can be seen from the fact that new projects entail construction of 2,673 new schools in addition to 3,300 schools which are under construction.
In order to provide quality higher education within the country, new budget includes 3 new universities in Jazan, Hail and al-Jouf, 85 university colleges and 3 university hospitals. In terms of technical and vocational sector, the new budget allocated funds for 3 new technical colleges, 15 vocational training centers, 3 technical colleges and 14 vocational training centers. We believe that this coupled with Saudization initiatives will help in the long-run for local population to take up professional positions as well as start their own small and medium enterprises (SME).
Budget Allocations by Major Sectors
(SR bn) 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Human Resource Development 53.0 47.0 49.6 55.8 69.9 87.3
Transport & Communications 5.7 5.5 5.6 6.4 8.6 11.5
Economic Resource Development 5.6 5.0 6.9 7.0 10.5 N/A
Health & Social Development 18.1 19.0 16.8 18.0 23.1 31.0
Infrastructure Development 2.5 2.7 2.5 2.6 3.3 22.5
Municipal Services 7.2 8.0 5.4 6.2 9.0 13.4
Defense & Security 78.9 69.4 70.3 78.4 95.1 N/A
Government Spending 37.4 39.3 44.8 49.9 51.7 N/A
Government Lending Institutions 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.5 N/A
Subsidies 6.2 5.8 6.6 5.3 8.3 N/A
T O T A L 215.0 202.0 209.0 230.0 280.0 335.0
Source: Ministry of Finance
However, another theme for this year’s budget seems to have been the improvement in allocation towards the infrastructure sector which will act as the base for the continued economic growth of the country. The allocations to the water, agriculture and infrastructure sector amounted to SR22.5bn which includes capital expenditure of SR18bn. The new projects include water, sewage and desalination project amounting to SR13bn and projects in the industrial cities of Jubail and Yanbu, agricultural projects and flour mill projects. The government has also directed that a sum of SR2bn from the budget surplus should be allocated for the construction of national housing projects in various regions of the Kingdom.
Healthcare sector too has received significant attention in this year’s budget as the government allocated SR31bn in 2006 budget as compared to SR23.1bn allocated in the last year’s budget. Saudi Arabia has one of the fastest population growths in the world and there is a greater need for providing primary healthcare and medical services to the population.
In 2006-budget, the government has indicated that it plans to construct 440 new primary care centres and 24 hospitals with a capacity of 3,800 beds. Also 89 hospitals are under construction which will add 10,650 beds to the existing capacity. With the increase in the life expectancy, there will be a strong growth in the old population (above 65 years) which will require medical attention and facilities. We believe that this will call for more participation by the private sector in the medical services sector. With the growing urbanization in mind, the Saudi government has proactively allocated SR13.4bn towards the municipality services which include new project aggregating to SR10bn in this budget. The allocation of the municipality services increased by 49.3% over the previous year. Transport and communication services allocation too increased by 33% reaching SR11.5bn in 20006 budget. The government has allocated SR9.2bn for new projects which include roads (5700km), ports, and airport and railroad development. We believe that improvement in transportation allocation combined with the strong increase in infrastructure development will help in improving the investment climate in the country and help in garnering the increased share of FDI coming in the region.
According to the budget report of 2006 released by the Ministry of Finance, the public debt is expected to drop SR614bn reported at the end of 2004 to SR475bn in 2005, amounting to 41.2% of the country’s GDP. The government has stated its intention to use the fiscal surplus to settle part of its outstanding public debt. The government has done a commendable job in bringing down the debt as percent of GDP from 93.3% in 2001 to the current 41.2%. We expect that debt reduction policy will continue in the wake of strong surplus expected to be generated by the government.
As the year 2005 brought huge fiscal surplus, the government need not finance any deficit with the issuance of new debt. The government, in future, is likely to use the windfall of high oil revenues to fund the new projects rather than borrowing from the market. However, looking at the GCC peers, the government debt/GDP is still the highest among the GCC countries and it will have to reduce its debt in order to be at a level playing field in the forthcoming GCC monetary union. However, the country has enough financial flexibility and liquidity that the situation of government debt seems less alarming. Government’s debt to government revenues ratio too declined from 156% in 2004 to a manageable 85.6% as a result of the growth in the country’s revenues combined with the repayment of the outstanding debt.