Saudi fund ‘to take over Riyadh financial district’

The first phase of the King Abdullah Financial District is due to launch next year. (Reuters)
Updated 23 November 2017
0

Saudi fund ‘to take over Riyadh financial district’

LONDON: Riyadh’s $10 billion business hub, which has been under construction since 2006, will be given a fresh lease of life under the management of the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, according to reports.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) has finalized a deal to take over the management of the King Abdullah Financial District from the Public Pension Agency, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources.
While details of the deal have yet to emerge, Hilmi Ghosheh, who acts as an adviser for PIF’s real estate projects, is reportedly set to manage the completion of the development.
The Saudi Vision 2030 economic reform plan outlines details for the rehabilitation of the capital’s financial district, which is to be an economic free zone with visa exemptions and a direct connection to the airport.
The first phase of the project is due to launch next year with plans to host the G-20 meeting there in 2020.
The government is now exploring new incentive options to attract financial institutions to occupy space in the district, Bloomberg reported. Decade-long tax breaks for banks are among the ideas circulating to help populate the 73-building development, which has been restructured to reduce office space and increase the number of residential units.
PwC and local regulator Capital Market Authority are among the companies due to take space in the area.


Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

Updated 39 min 13 sec ago
0

Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

  • The PM said cabinet ministers need to be united and responsible
  • Lebanon’s debt is almost 150% of its GDP

BEIRUT, June 18 : Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on Tuesday called for parliament to quickly approve the country’s 2019 budget and urged his coalition government to avoid internal disputes.
The cabinet this month agreed a budget plan that shrinks the projected fiscal deficit by 4 percentage points from last year to 7.6% by cutting spending and raising taxes and other fees.
“What I want during the debate is for us to be responsible and united, and not contradictory,” Hariri said in a statement, addressing cabinet ministers as to their comportment during the parliament debate.
Parliament’s finance committee is debating the draft budget and has suggested amendments, local newspapers reported. It will then put the budget to the full assembly to ratify it.
Parliament is mostly composed of parties that are also present in the coalition government and which supported the budget there.
Since the budget was agreed there have been fierce arguments between parties in the coalition over several subjects, though these have not targeted the budget.
Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest debt burdens, equivalent to about 150% of GDP, and the International Monetary Fund has urged it to cut spending.
“We have held 19 cabinet meetings to agree on this draft budget and these sessions were not for fun, but for deep, detailed debate over every clause and every idea,” Hariri said.
“For this reason, I consider it the responsibility of each of us in government to have ministerial solidarity...to defend in parliament the decision that we have taken together,” he added.
After the 2019 budget is agreed, the cabinet must quickly start working on the 2020 budget and on approving the first phase of a program of investments toward which foreign donors have offered $11 billion in project financing. (Reporting by Angus McDowall, editing by Ed Osmond)