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New SME body ‘will generate jobs for Saudis’

RIYADH: The newly formed Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises approved by the Cabinet on Monday will help create jobs for young Saudis and boost the economy, according to experts.
One of the most important functions of the new body would be to facilitate funding for these small and medium enterprises (SME), they were quoted as saying by a local publication on Tuesday.
Saleh Al-Hassini, chairman of the Shoura Council’s economy and energy committee, said that the authority would remove several obstacles facing SMEs, which is crucial for the country’s economic growth.
Al-Hassini said that the authority would ensure that SMEs become more competitive and innovative, and attract investment. He praised the government for setting up this and other similar bodies and urged the Council of Saudi Chambers to support it.
Mansoor bin Abdullah Al-Shathri, a member of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and head of the board of trustees of the Riyadh Center for SME Development, said that the authority would create employment opportunities for Saudis.
Al-Shathri said that expatriates made up 86 percent of the SME sector in the country. This goes against trends in other countries, and is preventing citizens from investing in the sector, he said.
He said that the authority would help grow the sector, which makes up over 99 percent of commercial firms in the country. It would oversee the sector and fulfill the goals of the government’s economic plans, he said.
The Cabinet, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Monday, set up the body, which will have financial and administrative independence, and be overseen by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The authority would regulate and grow the small and medium enterprise sector in the Kingdom, so that it makes a substantial contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, and create jobs, the Cabinet said in a statement.
The authority would also ensure financial support for the sector through the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, the statement said.

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