Government-by-Government Assessments: Saudi Arabia

During the review period, the government made its enacted budget and end-of-year report publicly available online within a reasonable period, but it did not publish its executive budget proposal at least one month before the start of the fiscal year.  Information on debt obligations was publicly available online.  The limited data available in the government’s annual budget statement broke down expenditures by category, but not by ministry or agency.  Some major state-owned enterprises did not have publicly available audited financial statements.  The annual budget statement did not show allocations to the royal family and the government maintained off-budget accounts not subject to public oversight.  Deviations from planned expenditures and revenues were disclosed.  The supreme audit institution met international standards of independence and followed up on its findings, but its reports were not publicly available.  The government specified in law or regulation and appeared to follow in practice the criteria and procedures for awarding natural resource extraction licenses and contracts.  Basic information on natural resource extraction awards was not consistently made publicly available.  The sovereign wealth fund had a sound legal framework and disclosed its source of funding and general approach to withdrawals.

Saudi Arabia’s fiscal transparency would be improved by:

  • Publishing the executive budget proposal within a reasonable period;
  • Publishing expenditures by ministry or agency in the budget;
  • Ensuring audit reports for major state-owned enterprises are publicly available;
  • Making audit reports of the government’s executed budget widely and easily accessible to the public within a reasonable period; and
  • Making basic information on natural resource awards consistently available to the public.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future