Saudi Arabia announced an annual budget for 2010 of SR540bn ($144bn) – 14 percent more than its 2009 budget, and the largest in the kingdom’s history.Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah said the budget was set to achieve sustainable development despite a drop in oil prices on the back of the global financial crisis.
A total of SR260bn has been allocated for new welfare projects, and SR137bn for education, which will see new universities set up in Dammam, Al-Kharj, Majmaa and Shaqra, Arab News reported.
“It has taken into consideration the needs of the national economy as well as the global economic situation,” King Abdullah said in a speech delivered by Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan, secretary-general of the Council of Ministers.
“We’ll channel our financial resources to areas which require more spending in order to boost economic growth and development, make our economy more attractive for investment, and create more jobs for Saudis.
Some SR61bn has also been set aside for health, including the construction of eight new hospitals and the expansion of 19 existing hospitals, the paper said.
The budget revealed a projected deficit of SR70bn – the second consecutive annual deficit recorded – due to continued spending on infrastructure.
A statement by the Ministry of Finance said revenues for the fiscal year 2010 are estimated at SR470bn, with expenditures at SR540bn.
The ministry said it anticipated this year’s deficit to be SR45bn, a total of SR20bn lower than the SR65bn it had originally projected.
Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf said the kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009 was set to drop by 22.3 percent to SR1.38tn due to lower oil revenues.
However, he said this would be off-set with growth in all non-oil public and private sectors by 10.2 percent and 2.85 percent respectively.
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