Is there a legislative committee (or other appropriate body) responsible for defence budget scrutiny and analysis in an effective way?
13a. Formal rights
Saudi Arabia score: 0/100
No such legislative committee exists, or it lacks any formal powers over the defence budget.
There is a defence committee with formal rights of scrutiny of the defence budget, but lacks some of the powers listed in score 4.
There is a defence committee with extensive formal rights of scrutiny of the defence budget. The committee has the power to scrutinise any aspect of budget and expenditures. The committee is in a position to require expert witnesses to appear in front of it.
As noted above, there is a Security Affairs Committee in the Majlis al-Shura, which has the power to summon and question government ministers (1). However, there is no evidence to suggest that this committee or the Majlis al-Shura as a whole, which is a consultative body, has any control or influence over military and defence spending. According to our sources, the Majlis has no authority to scrutinize the defence budget or oversight over defence expenses in any way. The defence budget, is in the hands of the Office of the Crown Prince no one can oppose or question it (2), (3).
According to the Security Affairs Committee’s publicly available agendas detailing various meetings in the second year of its seventh term, the committee members gave their opinions on the annual reports of both the Ministry of Defence (4) and the Ministry of the National Guard (5), the latter of which is responsible for the Saudi Arabian National Guard, a branch of the country’s military. However, there is no indication that the members discussed budgetary matters relating to these two bodies.
According to a former member of the Majlis al-Shura, who served there for three years, “while the Majlis scrutinizes every other aspect of the budget, they are not allowed to scrutinize or study the defence budget in any way nor have they ever done so during my time there” (6).
It is unclear whether the unelected CPSA (see above) in turn has responsibility for defence budget scrutiny. Its mandate as described in Saudi government literature includes raising efficiency and coordination between various government bodies and ministries; as well as accelerating decision-making mechanisms, following up on implementation and drawing future trends (7), (8). No mention is made of any oversight concerning defence and military budgets.
1. Anthony Shoult, Doing Business With Saudi Arabia, (London: GMB Publishing Limited, 2006).
2. Interview with Army officer, June 8-11,2019.
3. Interview with Researcher, June 11-15, 2019.
4. “Agenda of the Majlis’ 1st Ordinary Session – Seventh Term, Second Year,” Consultative Council, https://www.shura.gov.sa/wps/wcm/connect/shuraen/internet/session+agenda/seventh+term-second+year/1.
5. “Agenda of the Majlis’ 6th Ordinary Session – Seventh Term, Second Year,” Consultative Council, accessed November 14, 2018, https://www.shura.gov.sa/wps/wcm/connect/shuraen/internet/session+agenda/seventh+term-second+year/6.
6.Interview with Gulf-focused academic, April 28, 2019.
7. Vision2030, http://vision2030.gov.sa/en/node/13
8. “Recent Economic Developments and Highlights of
Fiscal Years 1436/1437 (2015) & 1437/1438 (2016),” Saudi Ministry of Finance, December 28, 2015, https://www.mof.gov.sa/en/docslibrary/Documents/Budget%20Data/Ministry%27s%20of%20Finance%20statment%20about%20the%20national%20budget%20for%202016.pdf.
13b. Influence on decision-making
Saudi Arabia score: NA/100
The defence committee has no impact on defence budget decision-making.
The committee reviews the defence budget, but fails to take advantage of its formal powers of scrutiny. It may exercise informal influence over the budget in the case of no formal powers.
The committee reviews the defence budget and attempts to influence budgetary decisions through formal mechanisms, but these attempts are limited.
The committee performs all the functions of score 4, but this may not be in a timely fashion or there may be clear instances where the committee fails to scrutinise effectively aspects of the budget before the start of the fiscal year.
The committee has introduced amendments to the budget and there is evidence that in some instances these have resulted in changes to the budget. The committee engages in mid-year expenditure review and can strike out expenditures before they are incurred.
This sub-indicator has been scored Not Applicable as the legislative committee has no formal powers.
According to our sources, neither the Majlis nor the anti-corruption committee has formal authority or influence on the decision making process on the budget or other administrative decisions. The CPSA, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is unlikely to function as an independent check on the central government’s defence policy (1), (2).
The General Audit Bureau (GAB), a Saudi government entity, has at times scrutinized Saudi defence and military spending. The GAB’s charter encompasses auditing the budgets of all Saudi ministries and departments; however, it is unclear if this extends to the ministries of defence and interior (3). In late 2017, in conjunction with the government’s anti-corruption purge, the GAB published a report which claimed to reveal large financial irregularities in one of the departments of the Saudi Arabian National Guard. This reportedly included violations relating to payroll, allowances, financial benefits, recruitment, and contracting (4). However, this appears to be an ad hoc audit rather than an example of formal authority or influence over the defence budget, and was likely prompted by Mohammed bin Salman.
1. Interview with Army officer, June 8-11,2019.
2. Interview with Researcher, June 11-15, 2019.
3. General Auditing Bureau, accessed September 27, 2018, http://www.gab.gov.sa/Documents/GabSystem/5_1.pdf.
4. “Khashoggi: the Saudi crisis continues,” Middle East Monitor, November 21, 2017, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171121-khashoggi-the-saudi-crisis-continues/
Compare scores by country
Please view this page on a larger screen for the full stats.
|Country||13a. Formal rights||13b. Influence on decision-making|
|Albania||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|Algeria||0 / 100||NA|
|Angola||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Argentina||0 / 100||NA|
|Armenia||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Australia||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Azerbaijan||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Bahrain||0 / 100||NA|
|Bangladesh||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Belgium||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Botswana||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Brazil||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|Burkina Faso||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Cameroon||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Canada||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|Chile||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|China||0 / 100||NA|
|Colombia||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|Cote d'Ivoire||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Denmark||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Egypt||0 / 100||NA|
|Estonia||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Finland||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|France||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Germany||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Ghana||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|Greece||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Hungary||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|India||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Indonesia||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Iran||0 / 100||NA|
|Iraq||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Israel||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Italy||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Japan||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Jordan||0 / 100||NA|
|Kenya||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Kosovo||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Kuwait||75 / 100||0 / 100|
|Latvia||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Lebanon||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Lithuania||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Malaysia||50 / 100||NA|
|Mali||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|Mexico||75 / 100||0 / 100|
|Montenegro||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|Morocco||0 / 100||NA|
|Myanmar||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Netherlands||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|New Zealand||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Niger||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Nigeria||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|North Macedonia||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Norway||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Oman||0 / 100||NA|
|Palestine||0 / 100||NA|
|Philippines||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Poland||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Portugal||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Qatar||0 / 100||NA|
|Russia||100 / 100||0 / 100|
|Saudi Arabia||0 / 100||NA|
|Serbia||100 / 100||0 / 100|
|Singapore||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|South Africa||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|South Korea||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|South Sudan||100 / 100||NEI|
|Spain||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Sudan||0 / 100||NA|
|Sweden||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Switzerland||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Taiwan||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Tanzania||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Thailand||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Tunisia||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|Turkey||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Uganda||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Ukraine||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|United Arab Emirates||0 / 100||NA|
|United Kingdom||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|United States||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Venezuela||0 / 100||NA|
|Zimbabwe||50 / 100||25 / 100|