The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud chaired the Cabinet session held at Al-Yamamah Palace here yesterday, approving the State's General Budget for the fiscal year 2020.
The session started with recitation of verses from the Holy Quran. In a speech addressing male and female citizens, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques announced his approval of the budget.
The following is the full text of the speech:
"In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Gracious. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and prayer and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah.
May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you.
With the help of Allah, we announce the budget for 2020, which enhances the development process in the Kingdom, and aims at supporting economic and financial growth and stability.
We are determined - with Allah's help - to continue implementing economic reforms, diversifying sources of income, including investing proceeds of Saudi Aramco by the Public Investment Fund, optimizing the use of available resources, empowering the private sector, and raising the level of transparency and efficiency of government spending to boost growth and development rates.
The expenditure in this budget is One Trillion and Twenty Billion Saudi Riyals. This level of spending confirms our keenness to complete achieving the goals of the Kingdom's 2030 Vision. This budget is a continuation to the government's policy in developing basic services and facilities for citizens, strengthening social protection programs, ameliorating government services, increasing the level of quality of life and supporting housing plans.
We have directed the competent authorities to extend the payment of the cost of living allowance for an additional year until the end of 2020.
Also, we have directed the ministers and officials to commit to implementing the developmental and social programs and projects under the budget.
We pay tribute to the blessing of security, safety and stability that Allah has bestowed on us, and we will continue to work with all our resources and energies, foremost of which is the Saudi citizen, to achieve our goals, with the help of Allah.
May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you."
Prince Abdulrahman bin Mohammed bin Ayyaf, Secretary General of the Cabinet, read the Royal Decree regarding the Budget.
Then, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques signed the Royal Decree on the Budget.
In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the session, Minister of Media Turki bin Abdullah Al-Shabana said that Minister of Finance Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan briefed the Cabinet on the State's General Budget, highlighting the financial results for the current Fiscal Year 2019, and reviewing the main features for the General Budget for the new Fiscal Year 2020.
The Minister of Finance said that the total approved spending is SR 1,020 billion, with estimated revenues of SR 833 billion and an estimated deficit of about SR 187 billion (6.4% of the gross domestic product). The actual spending for 2019 is expected to reach SR 1,048 billion, and the total actual revenue is about SR 917 billion, and a deficit of SR 131 billion (4.7% of the gross domestic product).
The Minister of Finance also said that the budget confirms the government's eagerness to continue implementing major spending plans, major projects and Vision realization programs, developing infrastructure and social protection network programs and developing services provided to citizens, in accordance with the Kingdom's Vision 2030. The 2020 budget continues focusing on health and education sectors, as SR 167 billion has been allocated to health and social development sector, and SR 193 billion to education sector, representing 35% of the total approved spending.
The Minister of Finance also said it is estimated that the percentage of total public debt at the end of the Fiscal Year 2020 will reach 26% of the gross domestic product, in light of the government borrowing policy that balances between the withdrawal from the State's General Reserves and other sources of financing inside and outside the Kingdom to maintain appropriate levels of local liquidity, in addition to benefit from foreign exchange flows. The review of medium-term estimates for real GDP growth rates indicates a growth of about 2.3% in the Fiscal Year 2020, with the pace of growth expected to continue in the medium term.
The Minister of Finance lauded the statement of the State's General Budget for the Fiscal Year 2020 which showed a remarkable growth in various economic sectors during 2019, where the total growth of private non-oil gross domestic product reached 3.4% during the second quarter of the year.
Al-Jadaan stressed the Government's continuing implementation of its strategic goals to diversify the economic base through creating an appropriate environment for investment in promising sectors as well as the Government's continuing provision of a stable economic framework and a suitable investment climate, in addition to strengthening the legislative infrastructure and the social protection network, and empowering the private sector.
He also said that it is expected that the private sector's contribution to the growth and employment will increase in the medium term.
The Minister of Finance pointed out to the growth of a number of promising sectors during the second quarter of 2019, where the wholesale and retail trade, restaurants and hotels sector grew by 5.8%, while the transport, storage and communications sector, which includes logistical and technical services, recorded a growth of 6.4%.
He also said that the financial services, insurance and real estate sector grew by 5.4%, while the collective and social services sector, which includes sports and entertainment, recorded a growth of 7.4%, and the construction sector grew by 4.9%.
Al-Jadaan affirmed that the Budget's statement reflects the Government's tendency to consolidate the principle of transparency over the performance of the public finances in the Kingdom.