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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Saudi public debt increased about 5.6 percent during the first quarter of this year nearly amounting to SR901.4 billion ($240.4 billion), compared to the end of the fourth quarter of last year.
This recorded the fastest growth rate since the second quarter of last year, which was caused by the pandemic repercussions, Al Eqtisadiah reported.
The debt grew by 24.6 percent compared to the same period in 2020, which amounted to SR723.46 billion.
About 57 percent of the debt comes from internal debt nearly amounting to SR513.74 billion, while the external debt amounted to about SR387.63 billion, Al Eqtisadiah reported citing data of the Ministry of Finance.
The volume of debt to GDP increased to 35.6 percent at the end of the first quarter of this year compared to the end of last year at 32.3 percent, based on the GDP at constant prices.
The rise in the debt comes despite the budget recording its lowest deficit for the first quarter of this year since the third quarter of 2018 at SR7.44 billion, due to the 9 percent decline in oil revenues on an annual basis, despite the growth of non-oil revenues.
Saudi Arabia was able to raise funds to pay its deficit by about SR29.55 billion, which exceeds the actual deficit for the first quarter, as it intends to use the rest of the funding to pay the deficit for the remainder of the year.
Saudi Arabia is trying to take advantage of the lower interest rates in the debt markets.
The Ministry of Finance previously estimated that this year's public debt reaches SR937 billion, as the Corona crisis increased the target level of public debt.
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