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Saudi Arabia reports its first budget surplus in nearly 10 years on higher oil prices

The Kingdom Tower (middle) stands on the skyline above the King Fahd freeway in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Saudi Arabia reported its first finances surplus in almost 10 years, due to its income being ramped up by elevated oil costs.

The 2022 surplus got here to 102 billion riyals ($27 billion), constituting 2.6% of Saudi gross home product, in keeping with the dominion’s finance ministry, releasing what it mentioned had been preliminary estimates.

Total income for this yr was estimated at 1.234 trillion riyals, whereas spending amounted to 1.132 trillion riyals.

The authorities of the hydrocarbon-rich nation authorized a 1.114 trillion riyal finances for 2023 and expects to nonetheless see a surplus of 16 billion riyals. That’s a big discount from this yr’s surplus, amounting to simply 0.4% of GDP, however is a surplus nonetheless and relies on an oil value far decrease than what many analysts anticipate for subsequent yr.

“Our analysis suggests the budget is based on an oil price forecast of around USD 75 (per barrel), well below our house forecast of USD 105 (per barrel) for next year,” Daniel Richards, MENA economist at Dubai-based financial institution Emirates NBD, wrote in a analysis be aware.

Economists estimate Saudi Arabia wants the value of oil to be between $75 and $80 a barrel so as to stability its finances.

International benchmark Brent crude futures traded up 0.2% at $77.45 a barrel on Thursday afternoon in London, whereas U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures rose 1.4% at $73.09.

Growth for the nation is forecast to drop considerably in comparison with this yr, nevertheless, slowing from 8.5% this yr to three.1% in 2023, the finance ministry mentioned.

Crude oil storage tanks on the Juaymah Tank Farm in Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia, in 2018.

Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Many Middle Eastern banks are receiving impartial outlooks from rankings companies, the rankings company Fitch reported, which it says displays “solid economic conditions.” But Saudi Arabia stands out for having optimistic outlooks on most of its banks’ Issuer Default Ratings, “driven by improvements in its balance sheet given higher oil revenue and fiscal consolidation,” Fitch wrote in a report this week.

Still, analysts at Goldman Sachs assume expenditure will overshoot the finances subsequent yr, as Saudi Arabia’s authorities pursues costly megaprojects just like the futuristic metropolis of NEOM, Vision 2030 investments, and extra. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched Vision 2030 in 2016 with the goal of dramatically reworking and modernizing Saudi Arabia and decreasing its financial reliance on oil revenues.

Goldman additionally forecasts a decrease oil value for the following yr than the analysts at Emirates NBD.

“Our own projections, based on an average oil price of $90/bbl in 2023, lead to revenues of SAR 1,187bn, slightly below the 2022 estimated out-turn,” a report from Goldman Sachs on Thursday mentioned.

“With our expenditure forecast at SAR1,213bn (9% above budget), the result would be a deficit of 0.7% of GDP.”

Visitors watch a 3D presentation throughout an exhibition on ‘Neom’, a brand new enterprise and industrial metropolis, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 25, 2017.

Faisal Al Nasser | Reuters

Spending overshoot befell in 2022, with present expenditure going over finances by 14%, Goldman’s report wrote, citing information from the federal government’s finances assertion. Capital spending, in the meantime, was 64% increased than budgeted and authorities spending elevated by 9% year-on-year.

“The expenditure overshoot was mainly related to spending on military and security, as well as healthcare,” Goldman’s analysts wrote.

Geopolitical occasions, primarily Russia’s conflict in Ukraine and ensuing sanctions on Russian oil from Western nations, have put stress on oil provides, sharply growing vitality costs.

“Much of the fiscal situation and growth story is of course directly related to high energy prices, and indirectly related to the factors and geopolitical events moving prices,” Robert Mogielnicki, a senior resident scholar on the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, advised the AFP.

“Yet,” he added, “Saudi Arabia does deserve credit for its fiscal consolidation and economic reforms, which have also helped the overall economic picture.”



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