Saudi Arabia’s shift from budget balancing to fiscal sustainability: non-oil revenues see 53% growth

The share of oil revenues, previously the main component of Saudi Arabia’s income, declined from 76 percent in the third quarter of 2022 to 57 percent in the same period of this year. (SPA)
The share of oil revenues, previously the main component of Saudi Arabia’s income, declined from 76 percent in the third quarter of 2022 to 57 percent in the same period of this year. (SPA)
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Updated 04 November 2023
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Saudi Arabia’s shift from budget balancing to fiscal sustainability: non-oil revenues see 53% growth

 Saudi Arabia’s shift from budget balancing to fiscal sustainability: non-oil revenues see 53% growth
  • Non-oil revenues surged by 53 percent in the third quarter compared to the same quarter last year
  • I believe that the budget for Q3 2023 reflects the economic and financial reforms that the Kingdom has adapted since the launch of its Vision 2030 in 2016. Talat Zaki Hafez Economic columnist and banking expert

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s total revenues amounted to SR258.54 billion ($68.92 billion) in the third quarter of 2023, the Ministry of Finance said in its quarterly budget performance report on Wednesday.

Data released by the ministry indicates that non-oil revenues surged by 53 percent in the three months to the end of September compared to the same quarter last year, reaching a total of SR111.53 billion.

Non-oil revenues accounted for 43 percent of the Kingdom’s total revenues over the period, marking a significant increase from the 24 percent recorded in the same timeframe the previous year.




Talat Zaki Hafez, Economic columnist and banking expert

“I believe that the budget for Q3 2023 reflects the economic and financial reforms that the Kingdom has adapted since the launch of its Vision 2030 in 2016,” Talat Zaki Hafez, economic columnist and banking expert said.

Hafez explained that the significant growth in non-oil revenues is one of the objectives that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 sought to accomplish.

The share of oil revenues, previously the main component of Saudi Arabia’s income, declined from 76 percent in the third quarter of 2022 to 57 percent in the same period of this year.

I believe that the budget for Q3 2023 reflects the economic and financial reforms that the Kingdom has adapted since the launch of its Vision 2030 in 2016.

Talat Zaki Hafez, Economic columnist and banking expert

“One of the issues that has affected the oil revenue is the Kingdom’s voluntary reduction of oil production. It started with 500,000 bpd (barrels per day: and moved up to another 1 million since July which is a total reduction of 1.5 million bpd,” Hafez said.

Vision 2030 aimed to pivot towards non-oil activities due to the volatility of crude prices. Relying predominantly on oil revenues left the Saudi economy vulnerable to the unpredictable swings in global markets.

This strategic shift is set to enhance economic stability, create new opportunities for growth, and secure a more sustainable financial future for Saudi Arabia.

Conversely, total expenditures in the third quarter of 2023 rose by 2 percent compared to the same period of the previous year, reaching SR294.32 billion. The resulting budget deficit for this period amounted to SR35.77 billion.

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Data released by the Ministry of Finance indicates that non-oil revenues surged by 53 percent in the three months to the end of September compared to the same quarter last year, reaching a total of SR111.53 billion.

Hafez explained: “The increase in expenses coupled with the significant decrease in oil revenues has reflected on the overall deficit that was shown in Q3 of 2023.

“That’s an issue? No that is is not an issue as long as the objective of the Vision 2030, in its economic and financial reforms, is to focus on two things: To grow the non-oil revenues, and that’s an important fact, and also to guarantee that you have financial sustainability regardless whether the budget shows a surplus or deficit.”

Taxes on goods and services emerged as the primary contributor to non-oil revenues, comprising 63 percent of the total and reaching SR70.26 billion in the three months to the end of September.

This category displayed remarkable growth, surging by 57 percent from SR44.9 billion in the same period of 2022.

Meanwhile, taxes on income, profits, and capital gains experienced the most significant growth among non-oil revenue streams, with a remarkable surge of 148 percent compared to the same quarter last year, amounting to SR8.2 billion.

Although this category represents a small portion of total non-oil revenues, accounting for 7 percent, it has shown significant progress from 5 percent in the equivalent quarter of 2022 when it amounted to SR3.32 billion.

On the expenditure front, employee compensation accounted for the largest portion of expenditures, representing 44 percent and reaching a total of SR130.6 billion. This marks a 3 percent increase from the third quarter of 2022.

Although comprising a smaller portion of the Kingdom's total expenditures, it's noteworthy that total grants experienced a substantial leap of 336 percent during this period, amounting to SR4.04 billion.

Analyzing the allocation of expenditures by sector for the three months to the end of September, the military sector accounted for 21 percent of the total expenditures, amounting to SR62.29 billion. This marks a 15 percent increase compared to the same period of the previous year.

The health and social development sector represented 20 percent of the expenditures, with a total of SR57.44 billion.

It's noteworthy to mention that this particular category has already utilized 98 percent of the year's allocations, reaching SR185 billion within the initial 9 months of this year. This sector was initially budgeted for SR189.34 billion for the fiscal year 2023.

“The beauty is that the Kingdom is still spending on education, health and all of the social related protection programs that have witnessed growth during this period, like the Citizen Account Program and the Social Security System,” said Hafez.

The Citizen Account Program was established to protect Saudi families from the expected direct and indirect impact of various economic reforms, which may cause additional burden on some segments of society.

Hafez explained that the primary goal is not solely to conclude any financial period, whether it's on a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis, with either a deficit or surplus. “While surpluses are certainly welcomed, they are not the primary objective,” he said.

The economist added that the Kingdom’s objective has transitioned from simply balancing the budget. Back in 2016, with the inception of Vision 2030, the focus was shifted towards achieving financial sustainability where the government can consistently fulfill its financial commitments without interruption, irrespective of the fluctuating oil prices.

“The General Authority of Statistics has issued their GDP (gross domestic product) flash estimate for Q3 and it has clearly indicated that non-oil activity has increased by 3.6 percent and the government activity has increased by 1.9 percent on an annual basis,” Hafez said.

Total revenues for the initial 9 months of 2023 reached SR854.31 billion, accounting for 75.6 percent of the approved budget for fiscal year 2023.

During this period, non-oil revenues surged by 22 percent, totaling SR348.96 billion, and constituting 41 percent of the total revenues for this timeframe.

In contrast, oil revenues witnessed a 24 percent decrease, amounting to SR505.35 billion in the first 9 months of the year. Their percentage share declined from 70 percent in the same period last year to 59 percent by the end of the third quarter of 2023.

Expenditures in the initial three quarters of the year reached 81 percent of the allocated budget for fiscal year 2023, totaling SR898.26 billion during this period. Consequently, this led to a government deficit of SR43.95 billion within the same timeframe.

Total public debt stood at SR994.26 billion by the end of September, with SR628.6 billion categorized as domestic debt, while the remaining SR365.62 billion is classified as external debt.

Hafez said: “The public debt is less than 25 percent of GDP, which is one of the lowest if compared to advanced economies or G20 countries, and also the public debt is covered by ample, with government reserves standing at more than SR407 billion by Q3 2023,”

He added: “It means we have enough liquidity to cover our public debt, bearing in mind that the public debt is mostly domestic debt.”

 

 


Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market

Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market
Updated 27 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market

Saudi Arabia introduces clean diesel and gasoline fuels in Kingdom’s market

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s sustainability drive is gaining momentum with the Ministry of Energy announcing the launch of clean diesel and Euro-5 compliant gasoline in the Kingdom’s market. 

According to a Saudi Press Agency report, these newly introduced fuels offer lower emissions than traditional diesel and gasoline.

Like their predecessors, these energy sources are suitable for all means of transportation, and are also expected to contribute to preserving the environment and achieving the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, the report added. 

Euro-5 is a standard set by the EU to regulate the emissions of vehicles. 

Saudi Arabia is leading the Middle East and North Africa region in sustainable efforts through various undertakings, including the Saudi Green Initiative. 

The Ministry of Energy said that the introduction of these two fuels comes as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to reduce emissions and reach net zero in 2060 through the application of the circular carbon economy approach. 

The report added that the launch of these resources would encourage car manufacturers to introduce the latest energy-efficient vehicle technologies to the Kingdom. 

In January, multi-project developer Red Sea Global announced that it has become the first company in Saudi Arabia to use low-carbon biofuel in all its delivery trucks.

In a press statement, RSG revealed that the entire fleet of land vehicles is now powered by electricity or biofuel. 

The biofuel is produced from used cooking oil sourced within Saudi Arabia. The type of fuel RSG has adopted emits only 0.17 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per liter, compared with 2.7kg CO2e per liter from regular diesel usage.


Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 

Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 
Updated 27 February 2024
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Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 

Johnson & Johnson MedTech begins direct operations in Saudi Arabia 

RIYADH: Saudi healthcare is poised to benefit from advanced medical interventions after Johnson & Johnson’s technology firm, J&J MedTech KSA, announced the launching of its direct operations in the Kingdom.  

The company provides high-tech medical and surgical equipment and aims to bring customers closer to a more streamlined experience, according to a statement.   

This move not only aligns with the firm’s commitment to enhancing medical interventions and improving clinical outcomes but also reflects the company’s ongoing investment in the future of Saudi healthcare, it added.   

Marzena Kulis, managing director of Johnson & Johnson MedTech for Middle East & Africa, said: “We remain deeply vested in Saudi Arabia and in contributing to the Vision 2030 to support in developing the healthcare sector, driving economic growth, nurturing local talent, and fostering innovation.”    

She added: “As an entity, Johnson & Johnson has been present in Saudi Arabia for nearly 40 years, putting the needs of patients, families, physicians, and nurses first, and functioning as advocates for the health of the Saudi community.”   

The senior executive added that as the company transitions into this new direct model, its esteemed partners will have fewer obstacles in providing the best care for their patients.

Moreover, Trad Al-Khelaiwi general manager of J&J MedTech KSA, highlighted: “As a company that is dedicated to fostering local talent, our direct operations are also aimed at creating more opportunities within the Kingdom and supporting the government’s Saudization efforts.”

He added: “In fact, since the start of the project, we’ve made 76 new hires — with our priority and majority being KSA nationals.” 

Furthermore, Al-Khelaiwi emphasized that this transformative shift would bring the customers closer to Johnson & Johnson’s quality standards and help develop the local healthcare market with international know-how.

“By taking this bold step, we are not only embracing the health goals of Vision 2030 and aligning with the National Health Transformation Program but also spotlighting the immense potential of local talent in driving innovation and progress,” Transformation Director at Johnson & Johnson MedTech Peter Lane underscored. 

In November 2022, Johnson & Johnson announced providing digital solutions that will shorten the time patients spend in hospitals.  

According to Marzena Kulis, managing director of Johnson & Johnson MedTech Middle East, the move was crucial in countries with lower bed capacity.  

“The digital solutions that we currently offer help to shorten the time of patients’ stay, so the capacity can absorb more patients, especially in the geographies where capacity is limited,” Kulis said in an exclusive interview with Arab News at the time.


Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister

Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister
Updated 27 February 2024
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Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister

Demand for fossil fuels not likely to diminish anytime soon: Saudi energy minister

 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia aspires to become one of the largest producers and exporters of clean energy, said Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

In an interview with the quarterly bulletin issued by the Saudi Association for Energy Economics, the minister said the Kingdom is capable of producing green and clean hydrogen at competitive prices.

Prince Abdulaziz said the Kingdom is focussing on all energy sources including solar, wind and green hydrogen as well as nuclear and geothermal.

This will help the Kingdom to reduce the consumption of liquid fuels in generating electricity and reaching the optimal energy mix, he added.

The minister cited the establishment of the largest green hydrogen production plant in NEOM as an example. The plant will have an annual production capacity of 250,000 tonnes by 2026.

Talking about the fluctuations in the oil market, he said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has mechanisms in place to deal with global crude market challenges.

Despite highlighting Saudi Arabia’s energy transition plans, Prince Abdulaziz said the need for fossil fuels, especially oil and gas, will continue for decades as also indicated by several industry reports.

The minister added that Saudi Arabia is working to reduce carbon emissions, and that it has a program to replace liquid fuels.

He explained that the program aims to run industrial facilities to rely on natural gas or alternative fuels as well as building renewable energy sources.

Furthermore, Prince Abdulaziz highlighted how Saudi Arabia has quadrupled its current renewable energy capacity from 700 megawatts to 2,800 MW by the end of 2023, with more than 800 MW of renewable energy sources still under implementation and about 1,300 MW in various stages of development. On top of that, the Kingdom plans to produce 200 additional MW this year.

The energy minister also revealed that work is underway to build one of the largest projects to capture, transport, and store carbon dioxide with an annual capacity of up to 9 million tonnes by 2030 and 44 million tons annually by 2035.

He reiterated the Kingdom’s goal to reduce emissions to 278 million tonnes annually by 2030.


Closing Bell: Saudi main index rebounds to close at 12,602

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rebounds to close at 12,602
Updated 27 February 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index rebounds to close at 12,602

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rebounds to close at 12,602

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index bounced back on Tuesday after recording declines on two days.

The benchmark index gained 69.79 points to close at 12,601.55 with an overall trading value of SR7.31 billion ($1.95 billion), with 169 stocks advancing and 52 declining. 

The Kingdom’s parallel market, Nomu, also gained 661.67 points to close at 26,254.28 and the MSCI Tadawul Index also edged up by 0.68 percent to 1,627.71. 

The best-performing stock of the day was Middle East Pharmaceutical Industries Co., also known as Avalon Pharma, which debuted on the main market on Tuesday. The company’s share price soared by 30 percent to SR106.60. 

Other top performers were Saudi Steel Pipe Co. and Batic Investments and Logistics Co., whose share prices surged by 9.93 percent and 9.87 percent, respectively. 

The worst performer of the day was Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co., as its share price slipped by 5.24 percent to SR29.85. 

On the announcements front, Arabian Centers Co., also known as Cenomi Centers, said that its board of directors approved issuing dollar-denominated sukuk under its international sukuk program. 

In a Tadawul statement, Cenomi Centers revealed that the amount and the terms of offerings will be announced later, depending on the market conditions. 

The lifestyle center operator added that the sukuk issuance is subject to the approval of the relevant regulatory authorities. 

Meanwhile, National Medical Care Co. revealed that it witnessed a net profit rise of 42 percent in 2023 to SR240.9 million compared to the previous year. 

The medical service provider said the rise in net profit was driven by higher revenue, gross profit, and interest income, along with lower sales costs and zakat charges. 

National Medical Care Co. added that the net profit for the fourth quarter of 2023 also witnessed a surge of 15 percent to SR63.5 million compared to the same period in 2022. 

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. also revealed its financial results for 2023 on Tuesday. 

The company, also known as SABIC, reported a net loss of SR2.58 billion in 2023, compared to a net profit of SR16.5 billion in 2022. 

In a statement to Tadawul, the company attributed the accumulation of losses to a decline in revenue due to a decrease in average selling prices and sales volumes. 


Aramco signs procurement agreements worth $6bn to enhance local supply chain

Aramco signs procurement agreements worth $6bn to enhance local supply chain
Updated 27 February 2024
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Aramco signs procurement agreements worth $6bn to enhance local supply chain

Aramco signs procurement agreements worth $6bn to enhance local supply chain

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco’s domestic supply chain is poised for further improvement as it signed procurement agreements worth $6 billion with suppliers in the Kingdom. 

According to a press statement, these 40 procurement agreements were inked as a part of the company’s strategic localization program and are expected to strengthen the firm’s supply chain ecosystem and contribute to the development of the energy services sector in Saudi Arabia. 

The deals will also provide suppliers with long-term demand visibility, enabling them to capture future growth and advance localization efforts.

Wail Al-Jaafari, executive vice president of technical services at Saudi Aramco, said: “The 40 new agreements signed today are expected to contribute to the domestic value chain and further enhance the ecosystem that Aramco is helping to build.” 

Moreover, these procurement agreements will also contribute to achieving the objectives of Aramco’s iktva program, an initiative to drive the growth of a vibrant economy in the Kingdom and create new opportunities for Saudi nationals.

These new corporate deals span the supply of a range of products comprising strategic commodities, such as instrumentation and electrical and drilling equipment. 

“These agreements move us toward a more prosperous, diverse and resilient supply chain, which will help ensure business continuity. They also represent a key milestone on our iktva journey and provide our partners an opportunity to benefit from a dynamic and increasingly diversified operating environment,” added Al-Jaafari. 

Additionally, Saudi Aramco signed two memorandum of understanding with its strategic partners to collaborate on localization and supply chain development. 

Earlier in February, speaking at the International Petroleum Technology Conference in Dhahran, Amin Nasser, CEO of Saudi Aramco, said that the company is very active in its localization efforts. 

“We hired more than 5,000 people, mostly Saudis, but also from 60 nationalities,” said Nasser.

He also added that Aramco has the full capability to grow in any sector to create profitable companies.

In January, a report released by strategic consulting firm Brand Finance revealed that Saudi Aramco has retained its position as the most valuable company in the Middle East region, with a value amounting to $41.6 billion.