Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s finance ministry is closing the national accounts one month earlier than usual this year, suggesting it is tightening its control over spending as low oil prices create a record state budget deficit.

The world’s top oil exporter is grappling with a budget deficit which economists estimate could total $120 billion or more this year, and the finance ministry has taken other unusual steps recently to clamp down on excess spending. The new deadline to make payments is Nov. 15, the document says. In past years the deadline fell in mid-December; last year it was Dec. 18. In its latest step, a document sent by the ministry to government bodies this week and seen by Reuters instructs them to “bring forward the final date to make payments from budget allocations and other accounts for the current fiscal year”.