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Government-by-Government Assessments: Saudi Arabia

During the review period, the government made significant progress by publishing its executive budget proposal within a reasonable period and made its enacted budget and end-of-year report publicly available online within a reasonable period.  Information on debt obligations, including for state-owned enterprises, 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.  The annual budget statement did not show allocations to the royal family and the government maintained off-budget accounts not subject to public oversight.  Military and intelligence budgets were not subject to oversight by the Saudi legislative Majlis or a civilian public body.  When actual revenues and expenditures did not reasonably correspond to those in the enacted budget, the government produced and publicly issued revised budget estimates.  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:

  • Breaking down budget expenditures by ministry or government agency and by support to executive offices;
  • Eliminating off-budget accounts or subjecting them to adequate oversight and audit;
  • Subjecting military and intelligence budgets to legislative or civilian public oversight;
  • 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