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Saudi Arabia announces SR 1.1 trillion budget

Saudi Arabia: Monday, January 12 - 2009 @ 15:46

Budget data indicates that projected government spending in 2009 exceeds spending projected in 2008 by 16%.

It amounted to SR475bn in the new budget compared to SR410bn in the 2008 budget.

Expenditure fell 6.9% compared to real spending in the 2008 budget.

According to statement by the Saudi Ministry of Finance, economic growth is expected to speed up in 2009 to 4.2% from 3.4% last year, since Saudi revenues amounted to SR1.1 trillion.

The Ministry also predicted that governmental debt would account for 13.5% of GNP by the end of 2008, compared to 18.7% by the end of 2007.

The immensity of the budget is attributed to insistence on the part of the Saudi government to the implementation of projects in various fields, especially in the education sector; public education, higher education and scientific research.

Allocation of huge amounts of money for educational purposes underlines the country’s keenness to invest internally and to prepare human resources capable of leading the country’s future development.

The budget also focused on healthcare, water, electricity, and other service projects aiming at improving citizens’ conditions.

The figures included in the budget indicate the government’s confidence that economic policies and programs will be implemented despite the financial crisis.

In a session chaired by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in Rawdat Khreim in Riyadh, the Cabinet approved State Budget. The king said that despite the low oil prices at the time of preparation, the new budget will enhance development programs, which will lead, in turn, to a growth in the national economy and job opportunities for all citizens.

Education and health top Saudi agenda

A sum of SR122bn was allocated for public education, higher education, workforce training, science and technology, academic research and expeditions. For health services and social development sector, a sum of SR52bn was allocated to increase the capacity of hospitals and enhance the level of primary health care.

The budget also continues poverty elimination programs, in addition to youth and sport welfare.

A sum of SR49bn was allocated for sectors of water, municipality services, agriculture, industry and basic appliances. As part of its concern for these sectors, the budget included new projects for municipalities, renovations for existing municipality projects, enhancement of water resources, sewage system services, environment conservation and food and drug safety.

Allocations for the telecommunication and transportation sectors reached SR19bn. The largest in the country’s history, these sums will be used for building new roads, and finalising and renovating existing roads. This sector also included new projects for airports and seaports.

Economic experts said the huge budget will transform the country in 2009 due to the large number of development projects that managed to clear its way of inflation, scarcity of contractors and high construction prices. They explained that the real income in the 2008 budget was anticipated by analysts.

The increase in expenditure to SR475bn in the new budget reflects the government keenness to resume its development programs. They predicted that real spending would exceed the projected figure by 5%, taking into consideration the fact that oil prices were so low and that the government will try to abide by the numbers revealed as much as possible.

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Monday, January 12- 2009 @ 15:46 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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