Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammad Al-Jadaan revealed the Kingdom’s plan to launch major projects to privatize a number of sectors.
Speaking during the Financial Stability Conference held on Thursday in Riyadh, Al-Jadaan said that Saudi Arabia’s economy has been witnessing a gradual recovery since mid-2021, which was reflected in the positive growth rate in the real non-oil sector, which recorded 8.4 percent during the second quarter of this year, with support of the private sector, which grew at an average rate of 11.1 percent.
The minister said that the preliminary estimates for the third quarter of 2021 indicated a growth of 6.2 percent of the non-oil GDP, noting that the government was working on a financial sustainability program to reduce exposure to external factors, including fluctuations in oil markets.
Al-Jadaan emphasized his country’s preparation for launching around 160 future projects to privatize a number of sectors, pointing to ongoing plans to privatize education and logistics.
He said priority was given for projects with the highest impact within the sectors, adding that the new updated strategy would be published around mid-2022.
The Saudi finance minister stressed that his government was dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic by adopting realistic, transparent and responsible policies and procedures that have limited its financial, humanitarian and economic repercussions and put the country on the path of recovery and stability.
He said that financial stability should begin with public policies that work to achieve a balance between sustainability and the promotion of economic growth, with the aim to support the economic and social transformation in line with Saudi Vision 2030.
For his part, Dr. Fahd Al-Mubarak, the Governor of the Saudi Central Bank, revealed that digital business operations have reached more than 270 million transactions, with a value of 60 billion riyals (16 billion dollars).
Those operations grew by 60 percent during the Covid-19 pandemic, Al-Mubarak said, noting that the bank issued licenses to 12 companies, while 35 other companies were working in the experimental environment and waiting to obtain the full license to join the new financial technology.
He also said that among other initiatives by the Central Bank was the launch of a program with “Kafala” to support medium-sized companies, with loans to beneficiaries reaching 7,000 contracts worth 13 billion riyals ($3.4 billion). In this regard, the governor underlined the strength of the local insurance sector, which has a solvency margin of 170 percent, a loss rate under 80 percent, and an underwriting growth of 10 percent.
Mohammad Al-Kuwaiz, Chairman of the Board of the Saudi Capital Market Authority, revealed that foreign financial flows amounted to about 135 billion riyals ($36 billion) during the year 2019.
He stressed that opening the market supports the diversification of existing funding sources for listed companies.