Saudi 2023 budget surplus to be used to boost government reserves, says Crown Prince

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Mohammed Bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince said on Wednesday that the 2023 budget surplus, forecast at 16 billion riyals, would be directed towards boosting government reserves, supporting state funds and strengthening the kingdom’s financial position.

Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in remarks on state news agency SPA, stressed the leading role of the world’s top oil exporter in stabilising energy markets as part of efforts to strengthen the stability of both the local and global economies and their growth.

Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it recorded its first annual budget surplus in nearly a decade, beating its own projections in a year of elevated oil prices.

The surplus for 2022 amounted to 102 billion Saudi riyals ($27 billion), representing 2.6 per cent of GDP, according to preliminary estimates, the finance ministry said.

That compared to a surplus of 90 billion Saudi riyals that had been projected for 2022 at the end of last year.

The world’s biggest crude exporter also preliminarily recorded GDP growth of 8.5 per cent for the year, the finance ministry said, higher than the 7.6 per cent predicted by the International Monetary Fund.

The budget approved for 2023 foresees a surplus of 16 billion Saudi riyals ($4 billion) and GDP growth of 3.1 per cent, the ministry said.

The strong data comes as much of the world grapples with widespread energy shocks and deepening worries about recession.

In a briefing with journalists in Riyadh on Wednesday, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan pushed back on the notion that the surplus resulted from the Ukraine war.

Instead, he said it reflected investments the kingdom had made in its oil and gas sector as well as growth in non-oil sectors, as officials push the Vision 2030 agenda of economic diversification.

“We invested a lot of money when people did not,” he said.

“We are not celebrating the surplus. For us it’s not really big news. It’s something that we expected. We’ve been working… to curtail our spending, to increase our non-oil revenues.”

Agencies

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