Saudi Arabia Cuts Q1 Deficit, Reaping Benefits of Fiscal Measures

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DUBAI Reuters Saudi Arabia reduced its budget deficit to 7.4 billion riyals 1.97 billion in the first quarter of the year, the finance ministry said on Tuesday, as the government reaps the benefits of consolidation measures introduced last year.

The kingdom, the Arab worlds largest economy and the worlds top oil exporter, cashed in 117 billion riyals in oil revenue in the first quarter 9 below the first three months of 2020.

Total revenue however rose 7 annually, with a 75 increase in income from taxes boosting nonoil revenue by 39 year on year.

Saudi Arabia last year introduced measures such as a tripling of a valueadded tax and removal of a cost of living allowance to replenish state coffers depleted by the coronavirus crisis and lower global demand for crude.

These steps helped it to contain a budget deficit which ballooned to over 11 of gross domestic product last year, according to International Monetary Fund estimates.

The Q1 data reflects the focus of the government to lower the fiscal deficit, both by raising VAT which supported nonoil revenue growth in yearly terms, and lowering expenditure, said Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

The higher oil price was also reflected in the quarterly increase in oil revenue, she said.

In the first quarter last year the budget deficit stood at roughly 9 billion.

The Saudi government spent 212 billion riyals in the first three months of this year, a 6 annual reduction partly due to a…

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