The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Saud presided over the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers Monday, and announced the new budget of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the fiscal year December 31, 1997 to December 30, 1998 (1418/1419 H.), with revenues totaling SR 196 billion (US $52.3 billion). Compared to last year's, the new budget marks an increase of $15 billion in expenditure and additional $9 billion allocated for new projects.
King Fahd announced that the actual deficit for the fiscal year 1997 was reduced to $6 billion compared to $17 billion at the beginning of the year and that the budget showed nominal 1997 GDP growth of 7.1 percent.
King Fahd praised the fact that the balance of payments was showing improvement for the second year in a row, as the current account is expected to achieve a surplus of SR 870 million ($232 million) against SR 803 million ($214 million) in 1996. King Fahd said this result was mainly due to the improvement in trade balance which scored a positive growth in 1997 at 8 percent in addition to growth in oil exports. The King adding that the non-oil exports are also expected to grow by 10 percent, representing 12 percent of the total exports, thus reflecting the continuity of exports diversification process resulting from the expansion of the productive base of the Saudi Economy.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques also expressed satisfaction over the part of appropriations allotted to sectors related to the quality of life of its citizens. He announced that SR 45.595 billion ($12.158 billion) were allotted for public and higher education as well as vocational and manpower training, SR 19.7 billion ($5.253 billion) were allocated for health services and social development, SR 10.655 billion ($2.841 billion) allotted for basic infrastructure, industry, electricity and other economic resources, and SR 7.271 billion ($1.938 billion) for various subsidies to support social activity and insurance.