Saudi Arabia Q1 budget gap at $9.15b

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s first quarter budget deficit stood at 34.3 billion Saudi riyals ($9.15 billion; Dh33.54 billion)), around 18 per cent of the total gap forecast for 2018, the finance ministry said on Monday.

The kingdom — which is making concerted efforts to diversify its oil-reliant economy — has projected a deficit of 195 billion riyals, or 7.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), this year, down from 230 billion riyals last year. It plans to balance the budget by 2023.

First quarter revenues reached 166.3 billion riyals, up 15 per cent from the same period last year, the ministry said in a statement.

Non-oil revenues jumped 63 per cent to 52.3 billion riyals, partly due to a 5 per cent value-added tax (VAT) the government introduced in January. Oil revenues rose 2 per cent.

Noting the strong non-oil growth, Finance Minister Mohammad Al Jadaan said the first quarter figures “reflect rapid and significant progress in economic reform.”

Total spending reached 200.6 billion, up 18 per cent.

Last week, Jadaan said the government was on track to cut the deficit to 7 per cent of GDP this year.


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