Saudi posts $81.6 billion budget surplus
RIYADH - OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia on Monday posted a budget surplus of 306 billion riyals (81.6 billion) for 2011, as revenues turned out to be double the forecast, the finance ministry said.
The world's largest crude oil exporter had expected a deficit of 40 billion riyals ($10.7 billion), or 7.4 percent, with planned expenditure of 580 billion riyals ($154.7 billion).
Revenues surged to 1.110 trillion riyals ($296 billion), the finance ministry said in a statement, compared to a forecast of 540 billion riyals.
Expenditure hit 804 billion riyals ($214.4 billion).
The figure of 224 billion riyals ($59.7 billion) quoted by the television was actually the excess of real spending over budgeted spending.
Saudi Arabia traditionally uses a conservative price for oil of around $60 per barrel in its budget forecast.
The kingdom pumped crude over its quota this year to cover for a shortage resulting from the conflict in Libya.
Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said earlier this month that Riyadh's current output level was 10.047 million barrels per day, significantly higher than its quota of 8.05 million bpd.
Last year, Saudi Arabia posted a 17 percent budget surplus, or 108.5 billion riyals ($28.9 billion), despite soaring spending thanks to high crude prices.
For 2012, the kingdom expects a small surplus of 12 billion riyals ($3.2 billion), with revenues expected to hit 702 billion riyals ($187.2 billion), while expenditure would surge to 690 billion riyals ($184 billion).
It said 168 billion riyals ($44.8 billion) would be spent on education, 87 billion riyals ($23.2 billion) on health, 29 billion riyals ($7.73 billion) on municipal services, 35 billion riyals on roads and communication and 58 billion riyals ($15.47 billion) on water, industry and agriculture.
Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said GDP was expected to grow by 6.8 percent this year.
He also said public debt was expected to drop to 135.5 billion riyals ($36.1 billion) by the end of 2011, or 6.3 percent of GDP, from 167 billion riyals ($44.53 billion) at the beginning of the year.