King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, chaired the Saudi Cabinet’s session at Al-Yamamah Palace, on Tuesday, during which the State’s General Budget for the fiscal year 2018 was approved.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud addressed the nation, announcing the budget, as the largest expenditure budget in the history of the Kingdom. The budget, he said, takes into account the lower oil price levels compared to previous years, and has been planned in order to continue development and enhancement process towards achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, that aims at increasing the size of the national economy and sustain its growth, through diversification of the economic base, sources of income and the capacity to adapt to developments and for overcoming challenges.
The King said that dozens of programs have been launched to realize the goals of diversifying the economic base and empower the private sector to play a major role, in sustaining expenditure efficiency, in order to realize appropriate economic growth rates, mitigate the burden on the citizens and tackle possible impacts, in addition to supporting the private sector.
He hailed the achievements related to decreasing the deficit of the budget of the current fiscal year to 8.9% of the GDP from 12.8% during the last fiscal year. Despite increasing the expenditure in next year’s budget, he added that the target is to decrease the deficit to be less than 8% of the Gross Domestic Product, in spite of the great and expansionary volume of the budget.
The King stated that government programs have managed to downsize depending on oil to about 50%, adding that the development funds and the General Investments Fund take part in the capital and investment expenditure, with portions that exceeded capital expenditure volume, in the budgets of previous years, in addition to government keeping leading with capital expenditure, at an increase of 13%.
As a result, the government decided to invest these successes, expand development and adjust the fiscal balance program till the year 2023.
While maintaining fiscal policies, including the level of debt to GDP to remain below 30% with a level of deficit to be gradually decreased.
The king said “this budget continues to disburse on various development sectors in all regions of the Kingdom at high rates. It also includes allocations for housing, and a large expenditure of government funds that would contribute to push the economic wheel forward, and provide more employment opportunities for male and female citizens.”
The king announced that he directed “ministers and all officials to raise the level of performance, develop government services and enhance the efficiency of expenditure and transparency to meet the aspirations and the satisfaction of citizens for the services provided to them as well as to reflect the desired objectives of the allocated amounts in this budget, and the emphasis on continuing to fight corruption and maintain public money.
He emphasized that the budget takes into consideration the “continuation of work towards comprehensive and balanced development in all regions of the Kingdom, without any distinction.”