Complex Made Simple

Saudi Arabia posts record $98 billion budget deficit for 2015

Revenues totalled SAR608 billion, down from the original target of SAR715bn

RIYADH, Dec 28 (Reuters) – 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 on Monday.

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, Suhaimi said.

Revenues this year 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 later in the afternoon.

(Reporting by Marwa Rashad, Reem Shamseddine and Angus McDowall; Writing by Andrew Torchia and Catherine Evans)