Revenues boost Saudi Arabia’s Q1 budget, expenditure up 8%

Revenues were boosted by both the kingdom’s oil and non-oil sectors



Saudi Arabia posted a surplus of SAR27.8bn ($7.41bn) in the first quarter of this year, its first since 2014 and boosted by both oil and non-oil revenues.

The world’s top oil exporter was hit hard by a slump in oil prices in 2014, leading to a budget deficit of SAR367bn, or about 15 per cent of gross domestic product, in 2015.

Over the past few years it has embarked on a number of reforms aimed at diversifying the economy away from its dependence on oil.

In the first three months of this year the kingdom’s oil revenues totalled SAR169bn, a 48 per cent increase from the same period last year, the ministry of finance said in a statement late on Wednesday.

Non-oil revenues – which give a measure of the country’s economic diversification achievements – amounted to SAR76.3bn, a 46 per cent increase year-on-year, the ministry said.

Expenditures totalled SAR217.6bn in the first quarter, an 8 per cent year-on-year increase.

The kingdom said in December it planned to increase state spending by 7 per cent this year in an effort to spur economic growth and projected spending to rise to an all-time high of SAR1.106 trillion, from an actual SAR1.030 trillion in 2018.

The government spent SAR10.3bn in subsidies in the first quarter, up from SAR3bn in the same period last year, according to the statement.

“Expenditure outlays on development projects are expected to increase during the remainder of the year,” the ministry of finance said, particularly for private sector development programmes and because of increases in expenditure on social protection.

Public debt totalled SAR610.6bn at the end of the first quarter.