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Saudi government muddles ahead with austerity-lite masquerading as largesse

Mohammed Al-Jaadan’s first budget as finance minister provided an interesting exercise in expectation management and spin. The government tried to present the budget as an expansionary one, allowing the kingdom to catch its breath after several years of tough austerity which have strained the social contract between the Al-Saud and their citizenry. However, analysis of the detail suggests the reality is rather different. The figures in the official statement, published on 22 December, said spending would rise by 8% this year to SR890bn.

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