MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Saudi Arabia owes billions of dollars to private firms and foreign workers due to a budget deficit caused by low oil prices, the country’s Finance Minister Mohammed Jadaan said.
“I don’t recall the exact amount now but it’s billions of dollars… The ministry is now every day seeking to make thousands of payment orders,” Jadaan told reporters on Thursday, as cited by The Guardian.
On Monday, a government body, headed by the country’s deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, pledged to pay the money it owes to the country’s private companies by the end of December.
The arrears have affected large construction companies such as Saudi Binladin and Saudi Oger, which have been left without sufficient money to pay employees.
According to local media, payments were delayed due to a decline in oil revenue and reduced government spending on infrastructure projects.
In December 2015, Saudi Arabia announced a projected budget deficit in 2016 of $87 billion.
Global oil prices plunged to a 13-year low of under $30 a barrel in January of this year from $115 in June 2014 due to a production-and-supply glut that has posed major challenges for energy companies and oil-producing countries.