Every year, Saudi citizens recall with great appreciation and honor the achievements of the Kingdom in various aspects of life, including health, education, politics, social affairs, economics and finance. By virtue of specialization, I will discuss in this article the most important economic and financial achievements that have taken place in the Kingdom in the past year.
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, in its 54th annual report, indicated that the Saudi economy began in 2017 to undergo a string of economic reforms and programs that were detailed in Saudi Vision 2030. Such reforms have revolved around the diversification of income sources in order to reduce the Kingdom’s reliance on oil revenues.
One of the most prominent reforms was the formation of an anti-corruption committee, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This committee, aside from its successful efforts to recover billions of riyals of stolen public money, has managed to boost confidence in the Saudi investment environment. Other reforms include a “sin tax,” which is an excise tax specifically levied on certain goods that are deemed harmful to society, such as tobacco and sugar-filled soft drinks.
There is also the application of transparency and good governance to all government transactions, contracts and procurements. For example, the Ministry of Finance is now preparing the government’s budget reports and accounts in accordance with the Government Financial Statistics Manual, which is published by the International Monetary Fund.
And the Council of Economic Affairs and Development has announced 10 programs of strategic importance for the government to achieve Saudi Vision 2030. They are: The Housing Program, Serving Pilgrims Program, Improving Lifestyle Program, Strengthening National Identity Program, Supporting National Leadership of Companies Program, Developing National Industry and Logistical Services Program, Public Investment Fund, Strategic Partnerships Program, Developing the Financial Sector Program, and the Privatization Program.
The government’s commitment to economic reforms has resulted in excellent economic and financial results, as indicated in a report recently released by the Council of Saudi Chambers. For example, last year 10 development and investment projects worth SR685 billion ($182 billion) were launched and the private sector’s contribution to GDP at constant prices doubled to about SR1.2 billion.
It is also worth noting the government’s efforts in connection with supporting the private sector, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), by allocating financial incentives worth SR72 billion, of which SR14 billion was allocated to SMEs.
These projects and other economic achievements have translated the goals and objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 into facts and figures that will not only benefit the Saudi economy, but will also benefit the people of Saudi Arabia too.
• Talat Zaki Hafiz is an economist and financial analyst.