Saudi Arabia's Minister of Finance Mohammed Al Jadaan announced the government's latest 50-billion riyal ($13.33 billion) budget cut on Wednesday after an assessment found the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was causing a negative financial impact on the kingdom.
The cut itself totals less than 5 percent of the entire budget and will be achieved by slashing grants allocated to minor sectors with little to no social or economic impact.
"The government took measures to curb the impact of the oil price drop and will take additional measures to deal with the expected price decrease," said Al Jadaan, according to Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
With the probability of the kingdom suffering further financial consequences due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Al Jadaan reassured that future developments and spending will be reviewed "and appropriate decisions will be made in a timely manner."
The kingdom initially set a spending budget of 1.02 trillion riyals ($271 billion) in 2019 for the year 2020; this estimate has dropped by 7.8 percent so far. The forecast revenues for 2020, which are expected to reach 833 billion riyals ($221.5 billion) and have now fallen by 14.6 percent due to the effects of COVID-19, constitute a budget deficit of 6.4 percent.
Nevertheless, with all the budget cuts and financial difficulties the country is facing, the government will spare no costs when providing health services for the care, treatment, and prevention of the coronavirus, which, to date, has affected 238 people residing in the kingdom.