RIYADH - Saudi Arabia's budget deficit fell by 71 percent in the first quarter of this year, the finance minister said on Thursday, after the kingdom made sweeping spending cuts.
The deficit dropped to 26 billion riyals ($6.93 billion) in the first three months following the cuts made as a result of the dramatic drop in oil revenues, Mohammed al-Jadaan said.
It is the first time that Saudi Arabia has released budget figures on a quarterly basis, a measure it says is aimed at boosting transparency.
Saudi Arabia's budget deficit for this year was initially projected at $53 billion.
In September, authorities froze salaries and reduced benefits for civil servants -- who comprise the bulk of the workforce -- as part of a package of austerity measures.
But last month King Salman restored those benefits.