Saudi Arabia plans to push back its planned date for erasing its state budget deficit to 2023 from 2020, Reuters reported Thursday, citing finance ministry sources.
The decision was revealed by Saudi finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan at a seminar on the economy that was closed to the media.
The 2020 target for eliminating the deficit, which reached a record $98 billion in 2015, was part of a long-term fiscal plan released by the Kingdom in December.
Moving the target date back three years was to avoid an economic depression, said Al Jadaan.
Saudi state finances have been hit hard after oil prices more than halved in mid-2014, causing the world’s top crude exporter to make large cutbacks in spending and announce a host of economic reforms aimed at reducing hydrocarbon dependence.