Saudi to spend $71.6bn on projects in 2013

(Bloomberg)

(Bloomberg)

Upcoming projects in Saudi Arabia are expected to hit SAR269.7bn (US$71.6bn) in 2012, as the kingdom aims to improve infrastructure and services.

Citing the National Commercial Bank’s Construction Contracts Index, Saudi Gazette reported that heavy capital spending will continue throughout the year, at a 2 percent increase on 2012’s SAR264bn (US$70.4bn).

The government is expected to use the money in the education, health, municipality, transportation, construction and water sectors, with an anticipated 539 new schools on the agenda, along with 19 new hospitals and 3,700km of new roads.

In December, Saudi Arabia set a 2013 budget of SAR820bn (US$219bn), 19 percent higher than 2012’s budget, but slightly below what the government spent last year.

Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf later defended the kingdom’s level of spending: “We have the… ability to continue this scale of spending. We have the reserves, as we as we are reducing our debt almost to zero. So we can continue in the medium term and even beyond that.”

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