Saudi withdraws $91.5bn from assets to finance deficit

Deficit was estimated at $86.9bn in 2016

Saudi Arabia has withdrawn nearly SR343 billion ($91.5bn) from its overseas assets to finance the budget deficit and urgent projects.

Official data showed the assets controlled by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama), central bank, declined to around SR2,165bn at the end of September from SR2,508 billion ($668.8 billion) at the end of September 2015.

The assets also dipped by around SR208bn in the first nine months of 2016, according to Sama’s monthly bulletin.

Economists said the decline was due to government withdrawal of the assets to cover the fiscal deficit and fund important development projects in the Gulf kingdom, the world’s dominant oil exporter and largest Arab economy.

Saudi Arabia has estimated the budget deficit at SR326bn for fiscal 2016 while its 2015 shortfall was put at SR367bn.