In Makkah today, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz chaired a meeting of the Council of Ministers, which approved the Kingdom's State Budget for the fiscal year 1421-1422 H. , with expected revenues and expenditures balanced at SR 215 billion [U.S. $ 57.33 billion]. Full details were made available, in Arabic and in English, in a press release from the Ministry of Finance and National Economy.
King Fahd declared that the new budget focuses on important issues that will have great impact on the economic, social and security sectors, noting that the educational sector receives the greatest attention because of the concern to enable citizens to contribute positively to the country's development. Education and training, he said, are essential for the attainment of progress, and therefore one quarter of the State Budget is allocated to it. King Fahd added: "It is hoped that the universities and colleges and in particular the medical, technical and vocational training institutes will be able to accommodate greater numbers of students."
King Fahd went on to remark that the government also gives great attention to the health sector, saying that over thirty new hospitals have been approved throughout the Kingdom in addition to improvements in existing facilities. The new budget also gives attention to social services, the municipalities, and water projects. In addition, he said, the budget includes the creation of around 27,000 jobs, mainly in the education and health sectors, but also in various infrastructure projects that will positively contribute to the growth of the national economy. King Fahd stated: "When the budget was prepared, the government's concern was not only to realize a fiscal balance, but to support activities that contribute to development and progress."
King Fahd drew attention to the effective role being played by the non-governmental sector and the ongoing efforts to lessen dependence on government expenditure, particularly in the sector of the manufacturing industries, which has been steadily growing. He pointed out that this year has witnessed the approval of a number of systems such as that for foreign investment and real-estate ownership by non-Saudis as well as the establishment of the government institutions such as the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the Higher Tourism Commission in addition to the ongoing efforts for privatization of some sectors. "It is hoped", he said, "that these efforts and initiatives will pave the way for broadening and diversifying the base of the nation's economy."
Minister of Information Dr. Fouad Al-Farsy announced that the next meeting of the Council of Ministers will be on Monday, January 15, 2001.