Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit soared to $98 billion this year as the world’s biggest oil exporter counted the cost of falling crude prices.

In the first budget under King Salman, the kingdom said revenues reached 608 billion riyals, the equivalent of about 162 billion US dollars, down 15% on official expectations, according to a report by BBC News.

Spending for the year hit 975 billion riyals, some 13% more than forecast.

Oil prices have plunged from a five-year high of $125 a barrel in March 2012 to just $37.18 now.

Saudi Arabia said that oil revenues, which make up 77% of the total figure for 2015, are down 23% compared to last year.

It is the largest member of the Opec oil-producing cartel and has refused to cut output, which has forced companies in other countries to halt projects and lay off staff.



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