Saudi inflation soars to five-year high on unprecedented subsidy cuts

Friday 19/02/2016
Budget deficit of $98 billion

RIYADH - Saudi inflation soared to a five-year high in January after the kingdom made unprecedented cuts to public subsidies and raised fuel prices, a research report said Wednesday.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which reflects movements in the cost of living, rose 4.3 percent in January compared with the same month a year earlier.
That compared with 2.3 percent in December, said Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment, citing official figures.
"The recent reform to energy prices meant that housing and utilities and transport were the main sources of inflation as they accelerated sharply in January," Jadwa said.
Transport sector inflation jumped 12.6 percent year-on-year last month, the highest level in 21 years, the report said.
In a bid to counter a record budget deficit due to sharp declines in oil prices, Riyadh raised fuel prices by up to 80 percent in December. It also cut subsidies to electricity, water and other services.
The world's top crude exporter posted a budget deficit of $98 billion last year and is projecting a shortfall of $87 billion in 2016.
Oil prices lost about 70 percent of their value since they began to slide in June 2014.
Jadwa said housing and utilities inflation doubled from the previous month to 8.3 percent year-on-year in January.
"This was a clear result of the recent energy price increases, which impacted electricity and water tariffs," it said.