Mauritius invites Saudis to invest in new projects

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Updated 10 October 2015
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Mauritius invites Saudis to invest in new projects

JEDDAH: Mauritius Vice Prime Minister Showkutally Soodhun has called on potential Saudi businessmen to invest in the island state.
“The world is evolving a globalized environment and the Mauritian economy has also been shaped to become more diversified and more resilient,” Soodhun said during his visit to the Kingdom.
“New sectors are emerging such as financial services, ICT (information and communications technology)/BPO (business process outsourcing), and there is a renewed focus on the Blue Economy, where we do admit that we rely on the international expertise. Mauritius’ strategic position facilitates a gateway for investors setting up businesses in Africa,” he said.
Mauritius wishes to further consolidate relationships with major Gulf countries, especially with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a view to giving a boost to bilateral, Islamic and commercial partnership.
Soodhun was received personally by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister, and conveyed his heartfelt congratulations for the successful organization of this year’s Haj and discussing bilateral ties.
Giving an overview of the potential areas for Saudi investors, he said Mauritius is planning to build five smart cities. Saudi Arabia can participate in this investment, he said, adding that prime land is being given for 99-year lease to build smart cities, which will have universities, hospitals, entertainment areas and malls.
The island’s new airport can handle up to four million passengers annually. Over one million tourists visited this year and their numbers are expected to double by 2016.
Mauritius is also building a modern port, making huge investments in infrastructure, and especially developing solar energy, in which Saudis can invest.
Soodhun said: “We were all deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of lives and injury to pilgrims in Mina. On behalf of the people of the Republic of Mauritius, I extend our heartfelt condolences to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and to the people of Saudi Arabia. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims. We hope that those who are injured will have speedy and full recovery.”
He added: "We fully recognize that it’s extremely challenging to organize Haj, however, trust me, no one can do it better than Saudi Arabia. Like always, the Kingdom leaves no stone unturned so that pilgrims from all over the world can have a successful and rewarding Haj. The Saudi authorities’ efforts to look after the guests of Allah are indeed commendable. Nobody can predict the will of Allah. The tragedy in Mina was beyond the control of Saudi authorities."
He said: “Various reports suggest that there has been a lack of discipline on behalf of various groups of pilgrims who did not follow the instructions. We also lost few Mauritians in the tragic incident. which took place in Mina. Once again, we fully support the noble action, which is undertaken by the Saudi authorities. I have personally witnessed the works carried out in Makkah and the facilities extended to the pilgrims. It is simply tremendous.”
Inayatoollah Ramjean, a prominent Mauritian with 25 years of experience in Saudi Arabia, who was with the vice prime minister, was quite vocal in his support to the Kingdom.
“We have clearly witnessed the extent of the full preparations and efforts exerted by the competent Saudi authorities, under the leadership of King Salman, for serving Hajis who all completed their tasks with great success," Inayatoollah added.
He lauded the great services and facilities extended to the pilgrims by King Salman. “Not every person is able to realize and understand the magnitude of efforts and resources required to host the 2 to 3 million pilgrims, from over 185 countries, who have to perform the various Haj rituals at different locations.”
Inayatoollah said: “Saudi Arabia is pouring billions of riyals into infrastructure here at the holy sites. Most of these gigantic projects have been carried out in the last five years. The Saudi authorities have helped ease the pilgrimage for the millions who come from all over the world every year to perform the annual pilgrimage. Only Saudi Arabia can do this.”
“After the meeting with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the other Saudi ministers, I fully support the noble initiatives taken by Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is playing a vital and constructive role to bring peace and harmony in the region, across the Arab and the other Muslim countries,” Soodhun added.
During his meeting with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Soodhun expressed his great satisfaction with the fraternal ties and mutual esteem characterizing the relations between Mauritius and the Kingdom. They reviewed and discussed the future relations of solidarity and cooperation between the two countries, on how to further consolidate them at all levels to the best interests of the two peace-loving nations.
The Mauritius also had an extensive and positive discussion with Minister of Health Khalid Al-Falih and Minister of Haj Bandar Al-Hajjar. The Mauritian vice prime minister also visited Saudi hospitals where the Haj pilgrims were being treated and he was full of praise for the excellent treatment and care extended to all the pilgrim patients.
Mauritius recently signed a general agreement with Saudi Arabia, in New York, to open a full-fledged embassy in Riyadh. Soodhun also had a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, and they discussed and reviewed future bilateral ties between the two countries.
Inayatoollah, who is also an expert in hospitality, confirms that there are many investment opportunities in the hospitality industry, in Mauritius.
“Mauritius is arguably the wealthiest destinations, with the best beaches and it has resorts, which are among the best in the world,” he added.


Record budget spurs Saudi economy

The budget sets out to lift spending and cut the deficit. (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 December 2018
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Record budget spurs Saudi economy

  • “It is a growth-supportive budget with both capital and current expenditure set to rise.”
  • Government spending is projected to rise to SR 1.106 trillion

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced its biggest-ever budget — with spending set to increase by around 7 percent — in a move aimed at boosting the economy, while also reducing the deficit. 

However, analysts cautioned that the 2019 budget is based on oil prices far higher than today — which could prove an obstacle in hitting targets. 

Government spending is projected to rise to SR 1.106 trillion ($295 billion) next year, up from an actual SR 1.030 trillion this year, Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said at a briefing in Riyadh. 

The budget estimates a 9 percent annual increase in revenues to SR 975 billion. The budget deficit is forecast at SR 131 billion for next year, a 4.2 percent decline on 2018.

“We believe that the 2019 fiscal budget will focus on supporting economic activity — investment and wider,” Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), told Arab News.

“It is a growth-supportive budget with both capital and current expenditure set to rise.”

A royal decree by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, also announced on Tuesday, ordered the continuation of allowances covering the cost of living for civil sector employees for the new fiscal year.

“The continuation of the handout package will be positive for household consumption by nationals,” said Malik. “We expect to see some overall fiscal loosening in 2019, which should support a further gradual pickup in real non-oil GDP growth.”

World oil prices on Tuesday tumbled to their lowest levels in more than a year amid concerns over demand. Brent crude contracts fell to as low as $57.20 during morning trading.

Malik cautioned that the oil-price assumptions in the Saudi budget looked “optimistic.”

“We see the fiscal deficit widening in 2019, with the higher spending and forecast fall in oil revenue,” she told Arab News.

Jason Tuvey, an economist at London-based Capital Economics, agreed that the oil forecast was optimistic, but said this should not pose problems for government finances.

“The government seems to be expecting oil prices to average $80 (per barrel) next year,” he said. 

“In contrast, we think that oil prices will stay low and possibly fall a little further to $55 … On that basis, the budget deficit is likely to be closer to 10 percent of GDP. That won’t cause too many problems given the government’s strong balance sheet. 

“Overall, then, we think that there will be some fiscal loosening in the first half of next year, but if oil prices stay low as we expect, the authorities will probably shift tack and return to austerity from the mid-2019, which will weigh on growth in the non-oil sector,” Tuvey said.

John Sfakianakis, chief economist at the Gulf Research Center, based in Saudi Arabia, said that the targets of the budget were “achievable” and the forecast oil price reasonable. 

“It is an expansionary budget that should spurt private sector activity and growth,” he said. 

“With Brent crude averaging around $68 per barrel for 2018 and $66 per barrel for 2019, the authorities have applied a conservative revenue scenario.”