The Straits Times
Published on Dec 30, 2012

Saudi Arabia sets record budget for 2013


RIYADH/DUBAI (REUTERS) - Saudi Arabia has set a record state budget for next year as high oil prices allow heavy spending on welfare and infrastructure projects, helping it avoid the severe social unrest seen in other parts of the Arab world.

The government plans to spend 820 billion riyals (S$ 267 billion) in 2013, Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf said as he presented the budget to King Abdullah on Saturday.

That amount is 19 per cent higher than the 690 billion riyals that the world's largest oil exporter budgeted for 2012. It is slightly below the estimated 853 billion riyals that the government actually spent this year, but analysts said actual spending was on track to continue climbing in 2013.

"The 2013 budget points to a continued strong expansionary fiscal stance," said Monica Malik, chief economist at investment bank EFG-Hermes in Dubai, who predicted actual spending would rise by 10 percent or more next year.