Presiding over an extraordinary session of the Council of Ministers held tonight in Makkah Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz announced the State Budget for the fiscal year 1423 - 1424 H, corresponding to FY2003. Revenues are projected at SR 170 billion [U.S. $ 45.3 billion] and expenditures at SR 209 billion [$ 55.7 billion], an increase of SR 9 billion [$ 2.4 billion] over last year.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance and National Economy issued a statement giving details of the 2003 State Budget, and a royal decree was issued authorizing the Finance Minister to balance the budget deficit through borrowing.
Highlighting the budget's main features, King Fahd explained that it had been prepared in a way that meets the goals of continuing the development program aimed at increasing the growth of the nation's economy and the status of the citizens' standard of living, while continuing to rationalize spending and to give priority to education, health, social affairs and infrastructure. The economy's good performance levels, he said, arise from the government's efforts to achieve the objectives of the comprehensive strategy for development, including structural changes for the various economic, organizational and administrative aspects. He cited the establishment of a number of specialized bodies assigned to forge the relevant regulations to create an atmosphere conducive to diversification of the bases of the national economy, activation of the role of the private sector, creation of job opportunities, optimum utilization of resources, and attraction of both local and foreign investment. King Fahd pointed out that the creation of job opportunities for the country's labor force has always been a pivotal goal of the government, citing the establishment of the Human Resources Fund, support for the education sector, financial assistance for small and medium enterprises, and directives to the private sector to Saudize certain positions, and giving assurance that funds would continue to be extended as loans to development projects in industry, agriculture and real estate.