Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it had successfully cut into its huge state budget deficit this year and will increase government spending in 2017 to boost flagging economic growth.
The deficit shrank to 297 billion riyals ($79 billion) in 2016. That was well below a record 367 billion gap in 2015, and below the government's projection in its original 2016 budget plan of a deficit of 326 billion riyals.
"Our economy, thank God, is sturdy and it has enough strength to cope with the current economic and financial challenges," King Salman said in a nationally televised address to introduce the budget for 2017.
The financial challenges for Saudi Arabia stem largely from the fall in the global price of oil over the past 2½ years.