In a performance that exceeded the targeted budget surplus for 2022, the Saudi Ministry of Finance disclosed on Thursday a record increase in revenues during the first half of this year, driven by a surge in oil prices and the fast growth of the non-oil sector.
Experts told Asharq Al-Awsat that energy prices and the non-oil sector were able to support Saudi Arabia’s general budget, thanks to the Kingdom’s diversification of revenue sources and the financial reforms it has been leading for years.
The recent figures confirm the strength of the Saudi economy, which has seen a remarkable growth, despite the recent successive crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war, according to the experts.
The budget performance during the second quarter of 2022 witnessed revenues exceeding 370.3 billion riyals (USD98.7 billion) and expenditures amounting to 292.4 billion riyals (USD77.9 billion), with the budget recoding a surplus of more than 77.9 billion riyals (USD20.7 billion).
As for the actual performance of the Saudi budget for the half-year, the revenues recorded a surplus of 135.3 billion riyals (USD36 billion), with the volume of realized revenues reaching 648.3 billion riyals (USD172.8 billion), compared to expenses that exceeded 512.9 billion riyals (USD136.7 billion).
Oil revenues during the first half of 2022 amounted to 434 billion riyals (USD115 billion), registering an increase of 75 percent compared to the same period last year.
Non-oil revenues in the first half of this year amounted to 214.2 billion riyals (USD57.1 billion), compared to 204 billion riyals (USD54.4 billion) in the same period last year, recording an increase of 5 percent.
The mid-term budget, which was announced on Thursday, bore a very positive indicator about the performance of public finances in Saudi Arabia. The surpluses achieved during the first six months of 2022, which amounted to USD36 billion, exceeded all previous government estimates.
In this regard, Dr. Abdullah bin Rabeean, academic and economic advisor to Asharq Al-Awsat, said that the excellent performance of the Saudi general budget during the second quarter and the first half of 2022 was the result of the measures taken to reduce financial squandering.
He added that these figures came at a time when the global economy was undergoing multiple crises that impede growth.
The economic advisor further stressed that non-oil revenues saw a good increase of 5%, which confirms the Kingdom’s success in achieving economic reforms and diversifying the sources of income, in line with Vision 2030.
For his part, Economic Expert Ahmed Al-Shehri told Asharq Al-Awsat that the high budget surplus has emphasized the success of the financial reforms undertaken by the Saudi government, at a time when most countries were suffering from economic stagnation.
The government was able to achieve growth in its revenues, while it increased its actual expenditures by 10 percent during the first half of 2022, in order to implement its mega projects within the plans and programs of its Vision 2030, he added.