Saudi Arabia will cut its defence budget for 2021 by 3.8% to SAR175 billion (USD46.62 billion), marking a continued decline in the country’s defence spending, according to budget documentation released on 16 December.
Overall government spending was reduced to SAR990 billion, down 2.94% year-on-year. Government revenues are anticipated to be SAR849 billion, creating a budget deficit of SAR141 billion, or 4.9% of GDP. Defence expenditure as a percentage of public expenditure is expected to remain relatively stable in nominal terms at 17.68%. Defence spending as a proportion of GDP is also forecast to decline from 7.04% in 2020 to 5.81% in 2021, a level not seen since 2013, as the overall budget is also reduced to 2014 levels.
Budget information provided under the reporting line of “military sector” covers 19 government bodies including the Saudi Armed forces, Royal Guard, defence research and development, military training and development, as well as military health services and cities and bases.
Saudi Arabia has continued to cut defence spending, with in-year overspend levels also decreasing. (Saudi Ministry of Finance/Janes)
Key project achievements outlined this year included the initiation of the first phase of construction for facilities at the King Salman Airbase, implementing the first phase of the relocation and establishing the King Faisal Air Academy, setting a 10-year development plan as part of the overall development of the Ministry of the National Guard, and continuing to aim for the localisation of 50% of defence procurement expenditure under Vision 2030.
Aims for 2021 include completing the King Salman Airbase and relocation of the King Faisal Air Academy, continued capacity building for the branches of the military, and the ongoing implementation of the development plan for the Ministry of Defence.