NTP 2020: 6 strategic aims for Saudi Finance Ministry

Updated 18 June 2016
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NTP 2020: 6 strategic aims for Saudi Finance Ministry

JEDDAH: One of the key aims for Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Finance is to achieve a balanced budget by 2020 under the National Transformation Program.

The Saudi Cabinet approved the Kingdom’s National Transformation Program (NTP 2020) on June 6, with it ushering in a major new policy era designed to overhaul the economy.
“We estimate the total cost of the NTP to be borne by both the public and private sector will be SR447 billion,” Jadwa Investment stated in a recent report.
It pointed out that the Ministry of Finance (MOF) is in charge of implementing the Kingdom’s fiscal policy, and monitoring its implementation by the relevant agencies.
Aside from preparing the annual budget, the ministry also engages with government agencies and monitors the budget’s implementation.
MoF is also in charge of supervising the collection of government revenue and ensuring compliance with relevant rules and regulations.
Under the NTP, one of the key aims for MoF is to achieve a balanced budget by 2020.
In order to help achieve this, 6 strategic objectives are specified for the ministry. The first strategic objective is to strengthen public financial governance by improving transparency of the fiscal budget. KPIs include improving the Kingdom’s score from 0/100 to 25/100 on the open budget index by 2020. The Open Budget Index is a comparative measure of central government’s budget transparency, focusing specifically on how readily the government provides the public with timely access to comprehensive information contained in the budget.
In order to help achieve this objective, the MoF is targeting more than a two-fold increase in the percentage of government entities applying the Government Finance Statistics (GFS) system, from 30 percent today to 80 percent by 2020.
The GFS system is a specialized macroeconomic statistical framework designed to support fiscal analysis. It provides the economic and statistical reporting principles used in compiling statistics.
Another strategic objective is to increase non-oil revenues from SR163.5 billion in 2015 to SR530 billion by 2020.
This objective implies a cumulative average growth rate of 26.5 percent, compared with 18.3 percent between 2011-2015.
“We see this target being achieved if a collective effort by other government bodies is made, including the Zakat and Tax Authority, Saudi Customs, and other public investment vehicles,” Jadwa researchers added. A third objective is to raise the efficiency of spending on salaries and wages to improve performance productivity, and flexibility of public authorities. The target value of wages and salaries is SR456 billion (40 percent of total spending) by 2020, down from SR480 billion (45 percent of total spending) today. This will result in a reduction in public sector employment, especially when taking together with Ministry of Civil Service’s objectives, a separate government body with its own set of initiatives.
Under the NTP, the Ministry of Civil Service will have to increase the efficiency of salary and compensation expenditure through a 20 percent reduction in the number of civil servants. Another objective for MoF is to achieve sustainability in public debt by improving the Kingdom’s credit rating from an upper medium grade (A1) to a high grade (Aa2) by 2020. The NTP specified a set of initiatives for MoF to be launched in 2016 and aimed to address some or all of the objectives listed above, the reports added.
These include the adoption of tax reforms such as value added taxes on selective goods, minimum tax deductions, fees related to the registration of real estate properties and profits, and applying a new system for Zakat collection.
The aim is to achieve this while the Kingdom takes advantage of its strong fiscal buffers by increasing debt as a percentage of GDP from 7.7 percent today to 30 percent by 2020.


Despite efforts to stop lira fall, Turks still worried

Updated 26 May 2018
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Despite efforts to stop lira fall, Turks still worried

ANKARA: After the embattled Turkish lira weakened against the US dollar this week, Turks remain troubled over the economy despite the government’s reassurances.
The lira’s drama worsened on Wednesday when Japanese investors sold Turkish assets, after comments by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spooked investors earlier in May.
The lira hit 4.92 against the dollar before paring back some of its losses on Wednesday after an emergency central bank interest rate hike, but for many it’s not enough.
In a busy bureau de change on one of Ankara’s popular streets, thoughts turn to the worsening situation and fears that the country is already in a “currency crisis,” as experts at Commerzbank have described it.
During AFP’s visit, dozens came in to change their liras into gold, dollars and euros.
Ali Yilik indicated he was not convinced by Ankara’s reassurances as he changed his money into dollars for work.
“Who wouldn’t be worried about the exchange rate (situation)? This is not something that happens in normal conditions. It is extraordinary,” Yilik, who sells construction material, said.
Ali’s son Yahya Yilik, who is the manager at Tunali Doviz, said more Turks were coming in buying euros and dollars amid worries that the lira would fall further.
“They think the lira will keep losing value,” Yilik told AFP, adding that interest rate increases were a “temporary measure.”
In the past “one or two weeks,” the manager said the center had sold more foreign exchange than those wanting to buy lira.
The fall followed Erdogan comments during his UK visit mid-May when he indicated he wanted a greater say in monetary policy if he won in June 24 polls. This then raised concerns over economic policy becoming more unpredictable.
Student Necdet Guven was in the bureau de change to obtain dollars ahead of a trip to the US in mid-June but said he was “really worried” about the economy.
“Because everyday our economy gets worse. In the past, Turkey used to be among the top countries for agriculture and livestock, but now we import meat from Serbia and straw from Russia,” Guven lamented.
“We are not that developed a country in terms of industry,” he added, saying he believed Turkey had the potential to develop the economy further.
The lira appeared to show no signs of dramatic improvement and was at 4.70 against the dollar on Friday. In the past month, the lira has lost over 16 percent of its value against the greenback.
In a bid to ease concerns, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek — an ex Merrill Lynch economist trusted by markets — on Friday said the central bank “would do whatever is necessary” during an interview with NTV broadcaster.
“There is no question of taking steps back on either the independence of the central bank or the rule-based market economy,” Simsek vowed.
But not everyone looked at the situation pessimistically.
Orhan Albayrak said the euro and dollar’s value was increasing because of “outside forces’ economic pressure on Turkey,” adding there was “an artificial rise.”
But Albayrak, a wholesaler, was hopeful the lira’s fortunes would improve toward the date of the presidential and parliamentary elections.
“But when there are five, 10 days to the elections, I believe this increase will reverse,” he added.
Albayrak said the three percent key rate rise had some impact, but believed the lira could improve and “reach 4.2, 4.3” with further central bank moves supported by the government.
After the rate hike on Wednesday evening, Erdogan insisted Turkey would adhere to the global governance principles on monetary policy in the new system post-election.
But, Erdogan added he would not let those principles “finish our country off.”