The Saudi Finance Ministry has announced a 230 billion Saudi riyal ($61.3 billion) budget for next year, up SR 21 billion compared to spending targeted for 2003.
Approved at a recent cabinet session led by Saudi King Fahd, the 2004 budget forecasts state revenues of SR 200 billion and a SR 30 billion deficit. Actual spending for 2003 reached SR 250 billion riyals, up 16.9 percent on the annual projection, reported the ministry. The rise in costs was attributed to additional security expenses.
Some SR 40 billion of expenditures will be injected into education, health services and infrastructure. The ministry did not specify the amount set aside for defense and security spending nor did it state the oil price estimates on which the budget calculations are based.
Last year, Saudi Arabia’s budget was forecasted to carry a SR 39 billion deficit. The 2003 budget was based on the conservative oil price projection of $17 a barrel. The world's top oil exporter produces 7.6 million barrels of oil per day (bopd) and oil revenues are thought to contribute over 75 percent of state’s revenues. — (menareport.com)
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