Saudi Arabia's cabinet has approved SR990 billion ($263.89 billion) budget spending for the fiscal 2021 with an estimated revenue of SR849 billion and a deficit of SR141 billion, or 4.9 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The cabinet session held virtually and chaired by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said the budget will continue consolidating the process of development and prosperity of the country, said a Saudi Press Agency report.
King Salman said: “We have directed that the budget give priority to protecting the health and safety of citizens and residents, and to continue efforts to limit the effects of the pandemic on our economy.”
The world has experienced an unprecedented pandemic of the Coronavirus that negatively impacted the world economy. Saudi Arabia has taken exceptional measures to combat the pandemic. The government has also directed provision of free treatment to all those who contracted the coronavirus -- citizens, residents and illegal over-stayers -- at all public as well as private health facilities, the Cabinet meeting said.
The budget gives priority to the protection of citizens' and residents' health and safety, continuation of efforts to reduce the effects of the pandemic on the economy, continuation of work to stimulate economic growth, developing of services, supporting the private sector, preserving citizens jobs, implementing housing programs and projects, implementing developmental projects that provide more job opportunities for citizens, achieving the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision, raising the government spending efficiency, paying care to social protection, reducing depletion and waste practices and combating corruption, the King said.
A statement of the Ministry of Finance showed that the real oil output declined during the first half of 2020 at a rate of 3.3%, which is less than the local and international expectations for the Kingdom's economy, and is the least declining compared to other countries, especially the G20 countries, as a result of the positive effects of the effective measures taken by the government to address the health, financial and economic crisis.
The projections for 2021 revealed that a downturn of 3.7 per cent of GDP is expected this year, followed by 3.2 per cent growth next year “on the assumption that economic activity will continue to recover during the year.”
The public debt is expected to reach about SR854 billion or a 34.3% of the GDP, by the end of the current year, to reach SR937 billion or 32.7% of the GDP by the end of the Fiscal Year 2021, reaching about SR1026 billion, in the Year 2023 or 31.7%, which are levels that are short of the set ceiling of 50% of the GDP for public debt.
The statement said the government reserves for the Fiscal 2020 will preserved at SR346 billion and it shall be kept at the level of SR280 billion for the Year 2021 and SR265 billion for the Year 2023.
The budget earmarked SR151 billion for general items, SR186 for education, SR175 for health and social development.
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