Saudi budget deficit halves after sweeping spending cuts

Xinhua Financein RIYADH
2017-08-15 09:50

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Saudi Arabia's budget deficit halved in the first six months of this year, following sweeping spending cuts and a stabilisation in oil prices, the finance ministry said Sunday.

The budget deficit dropped by 51 percent to 72 billion riyals (19.2 billion U.S. dollars) in the first half of 2017, the finance ministry announced.

"This result reflects an improvement in the management of public finances as a result of economic reform introduced through Vision 2030," said Saad al-Shahrani, a high-ranking ministry official.

It is the second budget report released by Riyadh since the authorities announced in May they would begin issuing the figures on a quarterly basis to boost transparency.

The kingdom has regularly posted budget deficits since 2014, following a slump in oil prices.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter, in December projected a budget deficit of $53 billion for this year.

Revenues for the first half of the fiscal year were up 29 percent to 308 billion riyals (82.1 billion dollars) from the same period last year.

Spending in the first six months dropped 2.0 percent to 380.7 billion riyals.
As part of its reforms, Saudi Arabia is due to introduce value-added tax (VAT) in early 2018 along with the UAE and Qatar.
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