Saudi projects higher 2020 budget deficit, cuts spending

Riyadh (AFP) –


Saudi Arabia on Monday said its budget deficit for next year would widen as the world's top oil exporter faces tumbling oil prices and production cuts.

The kingdom projected a budget deficit of $50 billion for 2020, for the seventh year in a row, up $15 billion on this year, according to an official statement read on state-run TV.

The statement released following a cabinet meeting chaired by King Salman said Riyadh would also cut spending for next year in a rare belt-tightening measure.

Spending was projected at $272 billion, down 7.8 percent on 2019 estimates while revenues were estimated at $222 billion, also lower by 14.6 percent.

Oil prices have remained sluggish despite additional production cuts agreed by OPEC and its allies last week.

Oil income contributes to more than two-thirds of Saudi public revenues. Riyadh has also committed to larger production cuts to support prices.

King Salman said his government is determined to continue to diversify sources of income and sway the kingdom away from reliance on oil.

The finance ministry later said that actual spending in 2019 came at $279.5 billion and revenues at $244.5 billion, leaving the same projected shortfall of $35 billion.

Saudi Arabia has posted a budget deficit each year since 2014 when oil prices crashed.