By Arab News
By Faisal Faeq*
This year’s budget demonstrated that the Kingdom is starting to reap the rewards of the Saudi Vision 2030 economic and social blueprint, by diversifying its income sources while reducing dependence on oil.
It’s the fourth budget since the Vision was unveiled and the second largest spending budget in the history of the Kingdom. We have come a long way in that time and the budget demonstrated a real maturity of financial resource management.
Despite the decline in the average price of a barrel of Brent crude from $72 per barrel in 2018 to $64 per barrel in 2019, the average output of Saudi crude also fell from 10 million bpd in 2018 and to 9 million bpd in 2019.
Still, budget revenues increased in 2019 to SR917 billion compared to SR895 billion a year earlier.
This is the first time that income revenues have increased despite the persistently low price and lower crude oil output, which gives the economic reforms that started in 2016 greater momentum and confidence in the process of achieving the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030.
That aims to reach financial balance by 2023.
Despite the decline in oil revenues, there is no significant difference between 2019 and 2020 in terms of spending and revenue.
We are seeing more giga-projects bringing economic dividends to the far reaches of the Kingdom and creating thriving news sectors in the process, helping to reverse migration trends.
It means that citizens in all regions of the Kingdom are benefiting from the ongoing reforms.
But it’s not all about eye-catching projects that grab the headlines. The huge allocations for health and especially education, recognize the importance of providing a sustainable future for the country’s youthful population.
This is the real foundation for future growth. The goals of the Vision, as described by the Crown Prince and under the guidance of King Salman, have been gradually achieved despite the challenges posed by what is an unfavorable global economic backdrop defined by trade wars and trepidation.