Saudi Arabia has said expenses next year will again exceed revenues by far as the nation tries to lessen its dependence on oil exports. The government said cost-cutting measures would continue unabated.
Saudi Arabia on Thursday projected a 2017 budget deficit of about $53 billion (50.6 billion euros).
The cabinet in Riyadh said expenses next year would reach $237 billion, against revenues of $182 billion. The 2017 deficit would thus be huge again, but down 8.9 percent from the 2016 budget forecast.
"This budget comes at a time of a highly volatile economic situation, which led to a slowdown in world economic growth and a drop in oil prices that impacted our country," King Salman said on official television.
The world's largest oil exporter has frozen major building projects, cut cabinet ministers' salaries and imposed a wage freeze on civil servants in the wake of last year's record deficit of $97 billion.
The government made unprecedented cuts to fuel and utilities subsidies last year in a nation long accustomed to some of the cheapest oil prices in the world.
At its heart is a plan to float some 5 percent of state oil giant Saudi Aramco on the stock market, with the proceeds helping to form what will be the world's largest state investment fund with $2 trillion in total assets.
The IPO could take place in 2018 and would be the biggest-ever in stock market history.
hg/jd (AFP, Reuters)