RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has recorded a larger-then-expected budget surplus for 2022 of SR102 billion ($27.13 billion) — SR12 billion higher than previously forecast.
The surplus comes as the Kingdom's gross domestic product is also set to exceed expectations — registering growth of 8.5 percent compared with the 7.5 percent estimated in December 2021 and the 8 percent forecast in pre-Budget statement published at the end of September.
GDP growth is forecast to slow to 3.1 percent in 2023.
The revelations came as the Saudi government approved a SR1.114 trillion budget for 2023, itself expected to post a surplus of SR16 billion, Saudi media outlets reported.
The Kingdom expects revenues of SR1.13 trillion next year, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV reported. The surplus is equivalent to 0.4 percent of gross domestic product — 0.2 percentage points higher than forecast in September
Total revenues are forecast at SR1.234 trillion for 2022, while spending is SR1.132 trillion, meaning a surplus of 2.6 percent of GDP — 0.1 percentage point higher than previously forecast.
Saudi Arabia’s inflation, which recorded 2.6 percent in 2022, is expected to fall to 2.1 percent in 2023.
Later on Wednesday, the Saudi cabinet approved the budget in a meeting that was chaired by King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
“We announced the general budget of the state for the next year, asking God Almighty to perpetuate the blessing of security and prosperity,” the king said.
Following his speech, the Council of Ministers completed the session headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, where they thanked King Salman for attending the session to announce the state general budget for the next fiscal year.
The crown prince said that the success of the Kingdom’s reforms in the operating model of the public sector and the economy contributed to the achievement of a budget surplus.
He emphasized that budget surpluses will be used to boost government reserves, support national funds, and strengthen the Kingdom’s financial position in the face of a global economic downturn.
Prince Mohammed added that the government intends to prioritize capital spending in the 2023 budget based on regional and sectoral strategies in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
Along with spending, he also said that the government will implement a number of initiatives to strengthen the role of the private sector in development and attract additional foreign investment.
He cited the Kingdom’s launch of the “Global Supply Chain Resilience Initiative,” which aims to make Saudi Arabia a prime investment environment for supply chain investors.
The cabinet then reviewed the provisions of the budget, and issued its decision regarding the revenue, expenditure and surplus.
The crown prince directed the ministers and officials to actively commit to implementing the budget programs and the development and social projects.