April 24, 2019 / 7:39 AM / a month ago

Saudi Arabia posts 27.8 billion riyals budget surplus in first quarter - finance minister

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Kalin

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia had a budget surplus of 27.8 billion riyals (£5.73 billion) in the first quarter of this year, its finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan told a conference in Riyadh on Wednesday.

That compares with a deficit of 34.3 billion riyals in the first quarter of last year, as the Saudi economy emerged from a recession in 2017, the first time the economy had shrunk since the global financial crisis nearly a decade earlier.

Saudi Arabia plans to increase state spending by 7 percent this year in an effort to spur economic growth that has been hurt by low oil prices, according to its 2019 state budget.

Expenditure in the first quarter amounted to 217.6 billion, Jadaan said, slightly higher when compared to last year.

Reporting by Saeed Azhar and Stephen Kalin, writing by Davide Barbuscia, Editing by Catherine Evans

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