Riyadh: Saudi Arabia said on Saturday its budget surplus in 2012 hit 386 billion riyals ($102.93 billion) as oil-dominated revenues continued to rise, state television Al Ekhbariyah reported. It also announced what it described as a record budget for the coming year, with expenditure expected at $218.7 billion and revenues amounting to $221 billion.
The world’s largest exporter of crude oil traditionally uses a conservative price for oil in its budget. Oil revenues amounted to 92 per cent of total revenues in 2012, the channel said, citing a finance ministry statement. Revenues in 2012 amounted to 1,239 billion riyals ($330.4 billion), while expenditure hit 853 billion riyals ($227.5) billion, the ministry said.
The kingdom had expected a small surplus of 12 billion riyals ($3.2 billion) in 2012, with revenues expected to reach 702 billion riyals ($187.2 billion) and expenditure increasing only to 690 billion riyals ($184 billion).
In 2013, revenues in the oil-rich Gulf state are projected to reach 829 billion riyals ($221.06 billion), while expenditure is planned at 820 billion riyals ($218.7 billion), the news channel reported. “The council of ministers has passed the largest budget in the history of the kingdom,” it said.
Ailing King Abdullah, who underwent a back operation last month, presided over a council of ministers meeting on Saturday. “There is plenty of wealth, thanks be to Allah,” the monarch said, addressing his ministers, according to television footage.
“You have no excuse after today for any dereliction or complacency,” he said, according to Al Ekhbariyah. Finance Minister Ebrahim Al Assaf told ministers that real growth in the kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to be 6.8 per cent, with 5.5 per cent growth in the oil sector and 7.2 per cent in other sectors.
He put the rise in inflation in 2012 at 2.9 per cent compared with the previous year, and 4.5 per cent compared with the benchmark year of 1999, according to the official SPA news agency. Saudi Arabia continues to use part of its surplus to repay its public debt. Assaf said debt by the end of 2012 will stand at 98.848 billion riyals ($26.36 billion) compared with 135.5 billion riyals (36.1 billion) at the beginning of the year.