UPDATE 1-Saudi Arabia GDP to rise 5.1 pct in 2011 -c.bank

Mon Dec 12, 2011 2:58pm GMT

Related Topics

* 2011 oil sector GDP growth seen 4.9 pct -SAMA report

* Budget surplus forecast at 9.1 pct of GDP

* Analyst sees high oil prices boosting 2012 surplus (Adds quotes, background)

By Martina Fuchs and Asma Alsharif

DUBAI/JEDDAH, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's central bank expects the kingdom's real gross domestic product to rise 5.1 percent in 2011, when the budget surplus is likely to reach 9.1 percent of output, it said in its annual report on Monday.

"The preliminary projections of the model show that GDP at current prices could rise by 5.1 percent in 2011," said the report published on its website (www.sama.gov.sa).

Analysts polled by Reuters in September expected robust oil prices and increased government spending to propel the economy of the world's top crude exporter to 6.2 percent growth this year, up from 4.2 percent in 2010 and before slowing again to 4.5 percent in 2012.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) also said projections showed GDP in the oil sector could grow by 4.9 percent this year, and the non-oil sector by 5.4 percent.

As unrest swept other parts of the Middle East and North Africa this year, Saudi Arabia issued fiscal packages of an estimated $110 billion or 19 percent of 2011 economic output to boost public sector wages, expansion in public employment, and unemployment benefits, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated in September.

The finance ministry had set its 2011 budget with record expenditures of 580 billion riyals ($154.7 billion) and a deficit of 40 billion riyals, or 2.4 percent of GDP.

"It is expected that the (total) fiscal balance of the kingdom would record a surplus of about 185.3 billion riyals ($49.4 billion), (or)... about 9.1 percent of GDP in 2011," SAMA also said.

Analysts expected Saudi Arabia to post a surplus of 11 percent of GDP this year and 9.2 percent in 2012, the same Reuters poll also showed.

James Reeve, senior economist at Samba Financial Group in London, said he expected an even higher surplus next year due to high crude prices: "For next year's (surplus), we are looking at 12 percent of GDP and a GDP growth of 3.8 percent as oil prices will be around the $100 mark."

"I think outturn will be higher than 5.5 percent, just in terms of oil production which will be about 12 percent higher than last year... We think the non-oil economy will expand 5.3 percent and the oil sector by 11 percent," Reeve said.

In November, the country's finance minister said he was confident that the OPEC member state had the means to deal with any renewed challenges if Europe's debt crisis worsens and it will continue its investment programmes. ($1 = 3.7505 Saudi riyals) (Reporting by Martina Fuchs and Asma Alsharif; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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