Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz today chaired an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers to approve the State Budget for the fiscal year 1425-1426 [FY2005].
Revenues are estimated at SR280 billion [U.S. $74.77 billion], and expenditures at SR280 billion [$74.77 billion], a figure exceeding the previous budget for 1424-1425 [FY2004] by SR50 billion [$13.35 billion].
(For details, see the Ministry of Finance Report
and the text of the Royal Decrees)
In his speech, read on his behalf by Secretary-General of the Cabinet Abdulaziz Al-Salim, King Fahd commented that the 2005 budget coincides with the beginning of the Eighth Five-Year Development Plan (2005-09), and aims at boosting the national economy and achieving comprehensive development. Priority has been given, he declared, to investment: to augment general revenues in order to provide services for the citizens, and to work for reduction of the public debt.
All necessary allocations have been made available for the operation of the ministries and government institutions, as well as for the maintenance of public utilities and the completion of projects that are in progress. In addition, however, the allocations for the implementation of new projects, specifically to enhance the development process and the role of the private sector, amount to about twice as much as those for the previous year, and total almost SR75.50 billion [$20.20 billion].
The Department of Statistics estimates that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the current year 1424-1425 (FY2004) will reach SR931.80 billion [$248.81 billion]. The private sector GDP is expected to have increased by 6.7 percent in current prices and 5.7 percent in fixed prices. Growth in the non-oil industries is expected to have increased by 6.4 percent; in telecommunications, transportation, and storage, by 7.8 percent; in electricity, gas and water, by 4.5 percent; in construction by 7.5 percent; and in wholesale and retail trade, restaurants, and hotels, by 4.9 percent.
King Fahd declared that the 2005 State Budget aims at the ideal investment of available financial resources in a manner that serves the requirements of comprehensive development, giving priority to services that directly concern citizens such as health, education, and municipal services.
Twenty-five percent of the budget allocations – about SR70.10 billion [$18.72 billion] - will be spent on public education, higher education, and technical and vocational training. The aim is to improve the education sector, broaden its capacity, and diversify its goals in order to accommodate the labor market and increase job opportunities for citizens. New projects in this sector, for which SR14.65 billion [$3.91 billion] is specifically allocated, include the establishment and renovation of 1,420 schools for both boys and girls, plus twenty-two colleges, four university hospitals, and sixty-one technical and vocational training institutions.
A total of SR27.10 billion [$7.24 billion] has been set aside for the health and social services sector, with SR4.60 billion [$1.23 billion] specifically for new projects, a figure three times the size of the allocations for the previous year. This includes projects for the establishment and renovation of 420 primary health care centers and for 23 new hospitals in various parts of the Kingdom, offering 3,150 beds.
Municipal services are allocated SR10.65 billion [$2.84 billion], with new projects and expansion of a number of existing projects taking SR7.20 billion [$1.92 billion] to cover construction of tunnels, flyovers, roads, drains, and street lighting.
A total of SR8.85 billion [$2.36 billion] has been allocated for projects in the sectors of transport and telecommunications. For water and sewage projects, SR29 billion [$7.74 billion] has been allocated, including SR17.20 billion [$4.60 billion] for desalination projects. In the industrial sector, there are new infrastructure projects in Jubail and Yanbu for petrochemicals.
The capital of the Real Estate Development Fund will be increased by SR9 billion [$2.40 billion], and that of the Saudi Credit Bank by SR2 billion [$0.53 billion]. Loans due to be extended in FY2005 are expected to amount to SR10 billion [$2.67 billion].