Saudi Arabia’s 2022 budget to see first surplus since 2013 at $24bn

Update Saudi Arabia’s 2022 budget to see first surplus since 2013 at $24bn
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan. (SPA/File)
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Updated 13 December 2021

Saudi Arabia’s 2022 budget to see first surplus since 2013 at $24bn

Saudi Arabia’s 2022 budget to see first surplus since 2013 at $24bn
  • Kingdom’s economy forecast to grow by 7.5 percent amid plans to diversify income activity

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia expects a 2022 budget surplus of SR90 billion ($24 billion), the Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a Cabinet statement.

If achieved, this will be the first fiscal surplus since 2013. Total revenues for 2022 are estimated at SR1.05 trillion, while spending is estimated at SR955 billion — the lowest level since 2017.

The Kingdom’s economy is expected to grow by 7.5 percent. Revenues grew by 12.4 percent compared with estimated revenues in the 2021 fiscal year, while expenditures narrowed by 5.9 percent, the statement said, following a meeting chaired by King Salman.

The Kingdom’s budget surplus is projected to be 2.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2022.

In the pre-budget statement published in September, a SR52 billion deficit was predicted for 2022. The Ministry of Finance had then expected the deficit to be 1.6 percent of the GDP. Yesterday, the ministry of finance expected this to be a surplus.

As for 2021, total revenues are projected at SR930 billion while expendtures are set to be higher than next year, standing at SR1.02 trillion. The ministry kept its deficit estimates for 2021 unchanged from its pre-budget statement in September at SR85 billion.

The ministry had predicted a lower SR849 billion of revenues in last year’s budget statement while expenditures were also forecast at SR990 billion — less than this year’s estimated figure of SR1.02 trillion.

Revenues experienced an upswing due to the weakening of the pandemic’s adverse effects, as well as government support for the private sector. In addition, several non-oil initiatives were adopted by the Kingdom, the report said. This led to an 18.2 percent growth in non-oil revenues compared to 2020, after excluding some profits from government investments last year.

Oil revenues also underwent a boost as higher global demand pushed oil prices up.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 related issues attributed to expenditures being higher than budgeted. Increasing vaccination rates among the Kingdom’s citizens meant that health workers received more overtime compensation while the purchase of vaccines also partly led to the jump in expenditures.

The rise in zakat revenues corresponded to larger social spending by the government, according to the ministry.

Deficit as a percentage of GDP fell notably from 11.2 percent in 2020 to an expected 2.7 percent in 2021.

While public debt increased in value from SR854 billion last year to an estimated SR938 billion this year, its share of GDP declined from 32.5 percent to 29.2 percent. The statement explained that output is set to expand at a higher rate when compared to debt growth, inducing the decline in the latter figure.


Egypt In-Focus — Annual headline inflation rises 1%; M&A activity amounts to $3.2bn in H1


Egypt In-Focus — Annual headline inflation rises 1%; M&A activity amounts to $3.2bn in H1

Updated 11 August 2022

Egypt In-Focus — Annual headline inflation rises 1%; M&A activity amounts to $3.2bn in H1


Egypt In-Focus — Annual headline inflation rises 1%; M&A activity amounts to $3.2bn in H1


CAIRO: Egypt’s annual headline inflation rose to 15.6 percent in July, up from 14.6 in June, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

CAPMAS attributed the rise in inflation to the increase in food and beverage prices that grew by 23.8 percent, along with growth in commodity and services prices.

M&A activity

Egypt reported a total of 65 mergers and acquisitions deals, valued at $3.2 billion, during the first six months of 2022, according to the EY MENA M&A Insights report.

Deal activity has surged thrice year-on-year during the first half of 2022. The report attributed the surge to “favorable government initiatives including granting a special license to foreign investors.” 

Port agreements

Egypt on Thursday signed two initial agreements for the development of port facilities with Hutchison Ports, Cosco and CMA CGM, Reuters reported citing a Cabinet statement.

The agreements with the international consortium could see investments of up to 800 million, it added.

Gas consumption 

Egypt has launched a plan to rationalize gas consumption in electricity plants in a bid to save foreign currency and achieve financial returns from gas export, according to Daily News Egypt. 

Maersk to invest $500m in Egypt

Danish shipping company Maersk is planning to invest  $500 million in Egypt to operate a new 1,000-meter container berth adjacent to the existing 500-meter berth in East Port Said. 

The company also aims to increase the number of cranes to 30 winches, all powered by electricity instead of diesel, according to a statement. 

This came at the end of  the head of the Suez Canal Authority Osama Rabie’s tour to the Netherlands and Denmark, which lasted 4 days, from Aug.7 to 10.

 


Oil rises as IEA hikes 2022 demand growth forecast

Oil rises as IEA hikes 2022 demand growth forecast
Updated 11 August 2022

Oil rises as IEA hikes 2022 demand growth forecast

Oil rises as IEA hikes 2022 demand growth forecast

LONDON: Oil prices rose by over 2 percent on Thursday after the International Energy Agency raised its oil demand growth forecast for this year as soaring natural gas prices lead some consumers to switch to oil.

Brent crude futures gained $2.39, or 2.5 percent, to $99.79 a barrel by 1348 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose $2.65, or 2.9 percent, to $94.58.

“Natural gas and electricity prices have soared to new records, incentivizing gas-to-oil switching in some countries,” the Paris-based agency said in its monthly oil report, in which it raised its outlook for 2022 demand by 380,000 barrels per day.

By contrast, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Thursday cut its 2022 forecast for growth in world oil demand, citing the economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, high inflation and efforts to contain the pandemic.

OPEC expects 2022 oil demand to rise by 3.1 million bpd, down 260,000 bpd from the previous forecast. However, it still sees a higher overall global oil demand figure than the IEA for 2022.

A rise in US oil inventories last week and the resumption of crude flows on a pipeline supplying central Europe capped further price gains.

US crude oil stocks rose by 5.5 million barrels in the most recent week, the US Energy Information Administration said, more than the expected increase of 73,000 barrels.

Gasoline product supplied rose in the most recent week to 9.1 million barrels per day, though that figure shows demand down 6 percent over the last four weeks compared with the year-ago period.

The premium for front-month WTI futures over barrels loading in six months’ time was pegged at $4.38 a barrel on Thursday, the lowest in four months, indicating easing tightness in prompt supplies.

The resumption of flows on the southern leg of the Russia-to-Europe Druzhba pipeline further calmed market worries over global supply.


Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports

Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports
Updated 11 August 2022

Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports

Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports

CAIRO: Egypt’s Cabinet has approved a plan to ration electricity to save natural gas that it will instead divert to the export market to generate foreign currency, it said on Thursday.

Egypt has suffered from an acute foreign currency shortage since Russia's February invasion of Ukraine, which pushed up global commodity prices, led to the collapse of tourism from the two countries and drove up the cost of borrowing.

Under the draft plan, shops and malls will have to limit their use of strong lights and keep their air conditioning at no cooler than 25 degrees Celsius.

Ministries and government facilities will have to turn off lighting at the end of working hours, the statement added. Street lighting will also be reduced.

The government last month postponed a planned increase in electricity prices by six months. The higher prices would have been intensely unpopular among a population that over the last few years has endured a series of harsh austerity measures.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said the government hoped to reduce the amount of gas used to generate electricity by 15 percent. He said domestic power plants bought their natural gas at one-tenth the price that it could fetch on international markets.

Europe has been seeking alternative sources of gas to cut its reliance on Russian gas as the war in Ukraine escalates.

Rapid growth in Egypt’s natural gas supplies, boosted by the discovery of the Mediterranean’s largest field, turned it from a net importer to an exporter in late 2018.

Egypt exported 9.45 million cubic meters of liquid natural gas in the first seven months of 2022, up 44 percent from a year earlier, according to Refinitiv data. 


Ethiopia starts power generation from second turbine at mega-dam

Ethiopia starts power generation from second turbine at mega-dam
Updated 11 August 2022

Ethiopia starts power generation from second turbine at mega-dam

Ethiopia starts power generation from second turbine at mega-dam

RIYADH: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed kickstarted electricity production from the second turbine at its controversial mega-dam on the Blue Nile on Thursday, despite continuing objections by Egypt and Sudan over the project, according to AFP.

Abiy also confirmed that a third filling of the multi-billion dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was under way, a development that led Egypt last month to protest to the UN Security Council.

Thursday’s move came even though there is still no agreement between Ethiopia and its downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan about the GERD’s operations.

Abiy insisted that the third filling of the $4.2 billion dam — set to be the largest hydroelectric scheme in Africa — was not causing any water shortages for the two countries.

“We have repeatedly told downstream countries, especially Egypt and Sudan, that by generating power we’re developing our economy, as well as (our desire) to see our citizens who live in the dark see light,” he said.

There was “no aim to sideline and harm” those countries, he added.

Ethiopia first began generating electricity at the dam in February. Currently, the two turbines, out of a total of 13 at the dam, are generating 750 megawatts of electricity.

We are ready to face all scenarios after Ethiopia completes the third filling phase of the Renaissance Dam, and we expect an unprecedented rise in the Nile waters after the gates of the dam are opened, the Sudanese Minister of Irrigation Yasser Abbas told Asharq.  

 


Macro Snapshot — Romania inflation exceeds expectations; Singapore downgrades GDP in Q2

Macro Snapshot — Romania inflation exceeds expectations; Singapore downgrades GDP in Q2
Updated 11 August 2022

Macro Snapshot — Romania inflation exceeds expectations; Singapore downgrades GDP in Q2

Macro Snapshot — Romania inflation exceeds expectations; Singapore downgrades GDP in Q2

CAIRO: Romania's headline inflation exceeded expectations in July yet smaller rate hikes are still expected, while China’s July vehicle sales surged by 30 percent from a year earlier. Singapore downgraded its gross domestic product in the second quarter of this year as risks grew further, whereas the Federal Reserve officials stated the need for additional rate hikes despite the slowing inflation rates. 

Romania inflation overshoots expectations in July

Romania’s headline inflation rate rose above expectations in July but is showing signs of flattening out and analysts expect the central bank to continue to slow the pace of monetary tightening.

The year-on-year inflation rate in Romania hit 14.96 percent in July, just off a 19-year high and above a forecast of 14.4 percent in a Reuters poll.

It came down from 15.05 percent in June but analysts say there is still a chance it could creep slightly higher in the next two months.

Singapore downgrades gross domestic product in Q2

Singapore’s economy expanded less than initially estimated in the second quarter and the government revised its growth projections for 2022 lower, flagging risks to the global outlook from the Ukraine war and inflation.

The gross domestic product grew 4.4 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said, slower than the 4.8 percent growth seen in the government’s advance estimate.

“Downside risks in the global economy remain significant...further escalations in the Russia-Ukraine conflict could worsen global supply disruptions and exacerbate inflationary pressures through higher food and energy prices,” said Gabriel Lim, permanent secretary of MTI at a media briefing.

Fed officials say more rate hikes needed, despite slowing inflation

Slowing US inflation may have opened the door for the Federal Reserve to temper the pace of coming interest rate hikes, but policymakers left no doubt they will continue to tighten monetary policy until price pressures are fully broken.

A US Labor Department report Wednesday showing consumer prices didn’t rise at all in July compared with June was just one step in what policymakers said would be a long process, with a red-hot job market and suddenly buoyant equity prices suggesting the economy needs more of the cooling that would come from higher borrowing costs.

The Fed is “far, far away from declaring victory” on inflation, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari said at the Aspen Ideas Conference, despite the “welcome” news in the CPI report.