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MENAFN - Arab News - 24/12/2013
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(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi economists are hopeful that the 2014 fiscal budget, likely to be announced on Monday, would pursue capacity building and balanced development throughout the Kingdom.
The Saudi stock market made significant gains in recent days as expectations grew over an expansionary budget. The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) climbed 0.5 percent to 8,551.23 points - a 63-month high.
Analysts expect the budget to spur some buying in infrastructure-related firms.
"Saudi Arabia is expected to announce financing initiatives that will include more youth participation in productive process that is pursuing education, training and entering the job market," Ihsan Buhulaiga, a former Shoura member, told Arab News.
Saudis are optimistic the new budget would earmark more funds for welfare projects across the country.
Economists had earlier predicted that the budget surplus for 2013 would exceed SR225 billion.
In 2012, the surplus was SR96 billion because of a fall in oil prices.
"The budget will create economic impetus for the country to grow and will continue to support the country's diversification efforts," John Sfakianakis, chief investment strategist at Masic in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News.
Sfakianakis said: "The budget is expected to be expansionary in nature and content. It will be a budget that continues to build on the human capital side of things, including education and training as well as health care."
He added: "Public investment will continue to retain its prominence given the government's commitment toward modernization and sustainability." He said government debt would continue to be at the lowest possible levels and among the lowest in the world giving the sovereign enough cushioning at times of greater stress.
Fawaz H. Al-Fawaz, a Riyadh-based economic consultant, said that the budget should be clear about the "explicit and implicit subsidies" to lay the ground for economic reforms.
"The budget should not be just an annual schedule of expenses and revenues. It must reflect the economic choices in the present and the future," he added.


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