Saudi Ara­bia bud­get deficit grows

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Saudi Ara­bia´ s govern­ment ran a record bud­get deficit of 367 bil­lion riyals ($97.9 bil­lion) in 2015 be­cause of low oil prices, the Coun­cil of Eco­nomic and De­vel­op­ment Affairs said.

The deficit is “con­sid­ered an ac­cept­able fig­ure” un­der the cir­cum­stances, with oil lan­guish­ing at multi-year lows, Hindi bin Ab­dul­lah al-Suhaimi, an ad­vi­sor to the coun­cil, told a me­dia briefing.

State spend­ing in 2015 to­talled 975 bil­lion riyals, more than the 860 bil­lion riyals orig­i­nally planned be­cause of ex­tra out­lays such as a salary bonus for pub­lic em­ploy­ees that marked the ac­ces­sion of King Sal­man in Jan­uary 2015, Suhaimi said.

Rev­enues in 2015 to­talled 608 bil­lion riyals, less than the orig­i­nal tar­get of 715 bil­lion riyals as prices for oil, on which the econ­omy de­pends, fell fur­ther than ex­pected.

Of­fi­cials are due to an­nounce Saudi Ara­bia´ s 2016 bud­get plan this month.

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