Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz today chaired the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, and approved the new State Budget for the fiscal year 2000 [1420-1421 H] in which total revenues were projected at SR 157 billion [U.S. $ 41.87 billion] against public expenditures of SR 185 billion [U.S. $ 49.33 billion].
[text of budget statement for FY 2000]
Addressing the cabinet, King Fahd expressed his pleasure at announcing the new budget, saying that the budget planners had taken into consideration the provision of the necessary means for continuous growth of the economy and improvement in its status while guaranteeing the continuation of other steps aimed at realizing financial equilibrium and rationalization of spending. He went on to state that the budget contained new projects in the various sectors, social, health, educational, and infrastructure, that would enhance growth and increase job opportunities for citizens. He exhorted the cabinet to demonstrate its concern to implement the budget in a way that guarantees the realization of its objectives.
Reviewing the main aspects of the budget, King Fahd indicated that the GDP is expected to grow by 8.44 percent in current prices. Budget estimates show that the cost of living index is expected to have declined by 1.2 percent in fiscal 1999 [1419/1420] while the GDP is estimated at SR 521.3 billion [U.S. $ 139.01 billion] at the end of 1999, as compared to SR 480.8 billion [U.S. $ 128.21 billion] in 1998.
Among the important indications of the budget was the positive performance in 1999 of the private sector, which is expected to show a growth of 2.4 percent in current prices and 2.0 percent in fixed prices compared to the previous year, 1998. The growth in non-oil transferable industries is expected to increase by 6.3 percent in current prices. The contribution of the private sector to the GDP is 38 percent in current prices and 48 percent in fixed prices compared to 1998.
The report also indicated that the deficit in the current account of the balance of payments is expected to drop by 70.3 percent to reach SR 14.6 billion [U.S. $ 3.89 billion]. Financial and monetary policies have maintained stable domestic prices, and stable exchange rates for the national currency (riyal), the two major pillars of balanced growth for the Saudi economy. Banks are continuing to enhance their financial ability, since their capital and reserves increased over the first ten months of 1999 by 4.7 percent to reach SR 42.1 billion [U.S. $ 11.23 billion] by the end of October 1999.
Reviewing the latest developments in the Arab world, the cabinet renewed the Kingdom's support for Syria to regain its full legitimate rights, and expressed hope that the resumption of the Syrian-Israeli talks would constitute a new indication of a fair and comprehensive peace.