They seem to have touched on a number of key issues like minimum wage, the health care industry, transparency, anti-corruption campaigns, and the list goes on as you can see below.
According to the SAMA Development Report, here are some of the Economic Resolutions that were passed by the Council of Ministers during the first quarter of the year ending with May of 2011.
“— Approval of the Saudi Institute of Internal Auditors’ charter (28/2/2011).
— Approval of the regulation of Real-Estate ownership by GCC citizens in GCC states for residential and investment purpose (7/3/2011).
— Approval of the regulatory arrangement of bottled water and ice factories, provided that Saudi Food and Drug Authority shall undertake all regulatory, executive and supervisor tasks, issue technical licenses for these factories, set up and monitor standard specifications of drinking water, set up sound bases for food and drug manufacturing as well as health requirements that must be met in water utilities (14/3/2011).
A Royal order, issued on 18/3/2011, includes the following points:
— Disbursement of a two-month salary to all government civil and military personnel.
— Disbursement of SR2,000 per month to job-seekers at the public and private sectors.
— Setting the minimum limit of salaries of all categories of Saudi workers at SR3,000 per month.
— Approval of building 500,000 residential units in all regions of the Kingdom and appropriating a total amount of SR250 billion for this project which will be implemented under the supervision of the General Housing Authority.
— Raising the amount of the maximum limit of the loan granted by Real Estate Development Fund from SR300,000 to SR500,000.
— Establishing the National Anti-Corruption Authority.
— Supporting the Ministry of Health with SR16 billion for the expansion of several hospitals and health centers.
— Raising the maximum limit of the private hospitals financing program run by the Ministry of Finance from SR50 million to SR200 million.
— Creating 60,000 military jobs for the Ministry of Interior.
— Establishing a branch for the General Presidency of Scholarly Research and Ifta in all regions of the Kingdom, creating 300 job opportunities for this purpose and allocating SR200 million to cover the branches’ needs.
— Establishing a complex called Saudi Fiqh (jurisprudence) Complex that will be a scholarly forum where jurisprudence issues can be discussed under the supervision of the Council of Senior Scholars.
— Allocating SR500 million for renovating mosques throughout the Kingdom.
— Allocating SR200 million for supporting the Holy Qur’an Memorization Associations in the Kingdom, under the supervision of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
— Allocating SR300 million for supporting the offices of Call and Guidance of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Dawa and Guidance.
— Supporting the General Presidency for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice with SR200 million to complete the construction of its premises in different regions of the Kingdom.
— Creating 500 jobs for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to support its control efforts, and hasten application of deterrent penalties on price manipulators and slander them, whoever the offender.
— Raising the proportion of Saudization in the private sector to create job opportunities for Saudi citizens. The Minister of Commerce and Industry and the Minister of Labor are to meet with businessmen to emphasize the determination of the State to effectively accelerate the Saudization of jobs. The Labor Ministry is to report quarterly on rates of Saudization achieved and the action taken by the Ministry in creating job opportunities for nationals in the private sector.”
While these are all prudent and important strategic investments, we simply believe that we are missing a golden opportunity.
The combination of the Japan crises, European sovereign debt crises and the municipal debt crises in America have created an environment that makes the Kingdom the most attractive location for manufacturing and development.
We at The KIN Consortium were hoping for a more concerted effort to provide financing for the industrialization efforts.
From our perspective, the chaos in the financial markets has opened the doors of opportunity by highlighting the weaknesses of a number of international manufacturers.
If we could seize the opportunity by creating a fund that is oriented toward the acquisition of the foreign manufacturers and the relocating of the facilities here in the region, then we believe we could ramp up the growth of the industrialization process.
Whether its foreign investors, government investors, local investors, or international financiers we need to continue with the positive energy.
We have recently read about the IFC International Finance Corporation announcing its entrance into the Kingdom, along with a number of other banks that are currently hiring and training Saudi employees.
It seems the international financiers are trying to diversify their businesses by growing their Islamic Banking portfolios.
While the momentum of the growth story is building, we are literally publishing a series of articles trying to show the investment community that it’s our time to shine.
We need to seize the day.
— Khalid I. Natto, [email protected], is chairman & CEO of The KIN Consortium