Saudi Arabia’s Lean 2021 Budget Reflects Its Grim Economic Reality

MIN READDec 16, 2020 | 22:22 GMT

A picture taken on Dec. 16, 2020, shows a partial view of the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Saudi government’s 2021 budget shows it remains committed to trimming government spending and establishing long-term financial sustainability through reforms. But the uptick in private sector activity needed to offset cuts to public spending, as well as shore up the kingdom’s long-term financial prospects, is not guaranteed, creating the potential for economically driven social unrest. The Saudi finance ministry released its 2021 budget statement on Dec. 15. The budget allots $264 billion for government spending, with an expected revenue of $226 billion. The kingdom’s budget deficit in 20201 anticipated is to narrow to 4.9% of GDP from its 12% deficit in 2020. The budget note also foresees a 7.3% cut in state spending and includes numerous references to Riyadh’s continued commitment to its Vision 2030 goals. ...

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