Saudi Arabia unveils new measures to support mining, industry

(Reuters)
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Updated 06 May 2020

Saudi Arabia unveils new measures to support mining, industry

  • Ministry fees will be reduced and licenses automatically renewed to limit coronavirus impact

LONDON: Saudi Arabia will defer loan payments in the industrial and mining sectors as part of a raft of new measures aimed at reducing the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Under the mandate of a royal decree, the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources launched 27 measures which also included developing new products to support working capital, reducing ministry fees and the automatic renewal of various licenses.

“These newly launched measures provide different layers of support toward sustaining operations within the industrial and mining sectors,” said a government statement.

Electricity bills will also be slashed by 30 percent and payment terms extended.

Significantly, the new support measures also include a plan to speed up local content requirements for companies that have 51 percent ownership by the Public Investment Fund. Some SR50 billion ($13.29 billion) has been allocated “to facilitate the settlements of the private sector dues,” the statement said.

Private sector companies will also be able to benefit from reduced interest rate loans and payment deferrals for 2020.

The measures also extend to taxation with the submission and payment of tax declarations suspended.

The plan comes as Gulf economies come under intense economic pressure from the double whammy of the pandemic and weaker oil prices.

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector shrank for the second consecutive month in April according to Purchasing Managers’ Index data released on Tuesday.

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) nudged up to 44.4 in April from 42.4 in March. Any reading below 50 indicates contraction while above indicates expansion.

“Saudi Arabian private sector output fell at the fastest pace since the survey began more than a decade ago, reflecting widespread business closures and a sharp reduction in customer demand,” said Tim Moore, economics director at IHS Markit.


Google Cloud prepares for Black Friday ‘peak on top of peak’

Updated 04 August 2020

Google Cloud prepares for Black Friday ‘peak on top of peak’

  • Cloud technology, used to host websites and store data, is a key part of many retailers’ e-commerce operations

OAKLAND, California: Alphabet’s Google Cloud unit is poised for a surge in fourth-quarter sales from US retailers, as they brace for record online shopping during the holidays because of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Cloud technology, used to host websites and store data, is a key part of many retailers’ e-commerce operations. As fees are often pegged to site traffic, a jump in activity will drive up revenue for the unit.
Carrie Tharp, vice president of retail and consumer at Google Cloud, said that her team had this year tossed out its linear growth model to predict how many servers it will need to process web orders for retailers around Black Friday.
“We’re planning for peak on top of peak,” she said on Monday. That could be a boon for Google Cloud, which has generated about 30 percent of its revenue during the fourth quarter the last two years.
Stores such as Kohls Corp. and Wayfair Inc. lean on Google months in advance to ensure it has enough servers to withstand increased shopping during holiday discount days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November and December.
This year, Black Friday-style demand has flooded shops since March, when the United States began lockdowns, Tharp said.
Holiday shopping is expected to boost demand further, as retailers including Target Corp. and Walmart Inc. have said they will reduce in-store hours because of coronavirus concerns.
Tharp said the pandemic has already benefitted Google Cloud, with some retailers adopting its predictive algorithms years ahead of plan to help them work out the most efficient way of fulfilling orders.
Electronics retailer Best Buy Co., for instance, announced on Tuesday a multi-year deal to centralize customer and product data with Google Cloud to improve its loyalty program and online ad campaigns.
The companies declined to elaborate on the deal, but Tharp said she hopes it leads to Google eventually powering Best Buy’s web ordering system.