RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will continue massive public spending despite a 50 percent drop in the price of oil which provides the bulk of the kingdom’s revenue, the finance minister said Wednesday.
Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf commented after completing the 2015 budget, which will be presented to cabinet “in the near future”, the official Saudi Press Agency said.
Financial analysts expect the budget to be approved as early as next Monday.
The kingdom is the largest economy in the Arab world, and OPEC’s biggest crude producer.
Assaf said the budget comes during “challenging” global economic conditions but surpluses and reserves built over many years have given it “depth and a line of defence that come in handy in times of need”.
He said this policy will continue, enabling the government “to implement massive social projects” in health, education, social services and development as well as state security.
This spending, combined with private sector activity, is expected to bring positive economic growth, he said, without giving a figure.
Crude prices have fallen to multi-year lows since June in the face of a global supply glut and slower growth in demand.
Prices have plunged even further since last month, when the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries decided against cutting production.
On Wednesday, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery sank a further $1.16 in afternoon Asian trade, to $54.77.
Brent crude for February shed 71 cents to $59.30.