New Saudi law to boost private sector participation in 16 key areas

New Saudi law to boost private sector participation in 16 key areas
The regulations aim to level the distribution of risk between government and private sectors, while reducing the government’s capital budget for large projects. (File)
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Updated 18 March 2021

New Saudi law to boost private sector participation in 16 key areas

New Saudi law to boost private sector participation in 16 key areas
  • Kingdom aims to raise $4bn this year as part of its ambitious privatization drive

JEDDAH: The Saudi Cabinet has unveiled plans to privatize 16 key industries in a move aimed at boosting the private sector’s involvement in the development of the Kingdom’s economy.

The initiative, part of the country’s new private sector participation (PSP) program, was announced by Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan, who also chairs the privatization program committee and board of the National Center for Privatization (NCP).

“The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is concerned with enhancing investment in the national economy, creating attractive investment opportunities for the private sector, and increasing its contribution to the domestic product to enhance the sustainability of the Kingdom’s economy,” he said in a statement.

The PSP law, approved during a virtual session of the Cabinet on Tuesday, has been designed to increase private sector collaboration in infrastructure projects and public services by supporting public-private partnerships (PPPs) and the privatization of public sector assets.

“The issuance of the KSA national PSP law is a big achievement for the PPPs ecosystem in KSA and is in line with advanced global models that have dedicated laws to govern PPPs,” said Ramzi El-Khoury, partner for government and economic development in the Middle East and Africa at management consultant Kearney.

FASTFACTS

• The new law is part of the Vision 2030 goal to boost the private sector’s economic contribution to 65 percent of gross domestic product, reaching up to SR14 billion.

• PPPs are an effective way to reduce the burden on the government and encourage more private investment and involvement in the economy.

He told Arab News that the regulatory environment the new law would establish was a key step in creating a transparent ecosystem to encourage investment in the Kingdom.

“We believe that the new PSP law will expedite and further spur local and foreign investments across the Kingdom, enhance infrastructure and service delivery channels, and support the realization of Vision 2030 objectives,” he added.

The regulations aim to level the distribution of risk between government and private sectors, while reducing the government’s capital budget for large projects, according to the CEO of the NCP, Rayyan Nagadi.

In a recent interview, he noted that the new system would help to accelerate the rollout of projects. “I hope projects, which may take two to three years, can be carried out in less than half or one-third of the schedule,” he said. The new law is part of the Vision 2030 goal to boost the private sector’s economic contribution to 65 percent of gross domestic product, reaching up to SR14 billion.

“PPP and privatization will support these objectives by facilitating the transfer of ownership of economic activities, services, and assets owned or traditionally delivered by the government to the private sector,” Tim Armsby, a partner in the projects and finance section of law firm Pinsent Masons Middle East, told Arab News earlier this year.

“This will play a key role in transforming the country from an oil-dependent economy to a diverse, private-sector-driven one,” he said.


Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance

Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance
Updated 19 September 2021

Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance

Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance

CAIRO: Egyptian state-controlled payments firm e-finance for Digital and Financial Investments said on Sunday it would offer up to 14.5 percent of its capital in an initial public offering in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Founded in 2005, e-finance said in a statement it is the sole entity authorized to operate the government’s financial network, including processing and settling payment and collection transactions.

The sale is one of several planned for this year.

In May, Egypt sold a 51 percent stake in state-owned Arab Investment Bank to privately owned EFG Hermes, its first sale of a majority bank stake since 2006.

The government announced in 2018 it intended to sell minority stakes in nearly two dozen companies, but those sales have been delayed repeatedly by market downturns and more recently by the coronavirus pandemic.

e-finance said it would float 177.8 million new shares on the stock exchange and 80 million shares owned by current shareholders, to both institutional and retail investors.

Among its shareholders are three state-owned banks: National Investment Bank, with 63.64 percent, and the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr, each with 9.09 percent, according to e-finance’s 2019 annual report.

Egyptian Banks Co., a payments operator led by the central bank, and a firm called Egyptian Company for Investment Projects each own another 9.09 percent.

e-finance's revenue rose to 1.23 billion Egyptian pounds ($78 million) in 2020 and 904 million pounds in the first half of 2021, a 2018-20 compound annual growth rate of 30 percent, it said.

The sale is subject to market conditions and regulatory approvals, the statement added.


Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities

Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities
Updated 19 September 2021

Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities

Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Finance Ministry on Sunday launched an initiative to ensure implementation of the latest global financial practices in the government sector to increase its efficiency in line with the Vision 2030, said a ministry statement.
Prior to the launch of the Financial Control and Support and Development Initiative, the ministry launched a self-assessment pilot program on selected government entities, it said.
The pilot project conducted field studies on the feasibility of self-assessment tools in government entities. The project sought to assess the efficiency of the entities’ internal control systems, level of transparency, and overall control measures.
The program aims to strengthen financial control procedures, improve governance, and switching to automation.


KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37% with 2 new silos


KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37%  with 2 new silos

Updated 19 September 2021

KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37% with 2 new silos


KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37%  with 2 new silos


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has added two new silos to its existing infrastructure increasing its strategic grain storage capacity by 37 percent, according to an Al-Eqtisadiyah report.

The Saudi Grains Organizations completed the Yanbu Silos Project with a storage capacity of 120,000 tons and it is working on adding a new one with the same capacity in Duba port, the reported said citing SAGO Gov. Ahmed Al-Faris.

Al-Faris said that Saudi strategic storage capacity of grains increased by 900,000 tons to 3.4 millions between 2015 and 2021.  

The SAGO chief said that the Kingdom has reached self-sufficiency in many products such as fresh milk, eggs, dates and white corn etc.

SAGO is one of the leading national institutions tasked with ensuring availability of key food commodities in Saudi Arabia.


Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap

Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap
Updated 19 September 2021

Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap

Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap
  • Paypal Crypto is now available to its UK customers

RIYADH: Paypal has completed the first international expansion of its cryptocurrency offering outside the US. 

Paypal Crypto is now available to its UK customers allowing them to buy, hold and sell four types of cryptocurrencies.

The official account of Paypal UK tweeted: “We are delighted to share that all eligible customers in the UK can now buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies such as: Bitcoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash and litecoin from their Paypal account.”

Meanwhile, Laos has allowed a series of cryptocurrency mining and trading projects in the country in contravention of the policies of its central bank which issued warnings against cryptocurrencies just a month ago. The move to allow bitcoin mining is part of the government’s efforts to compensate for the losses caused due to a decline in tourism due to the coronavirus disease pandemic. 

Six companies have been authorized to start cryptocurrency trading and mining operations in the country, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Laos could also try to attract some of the miners who were expelled from China.

Skepticism

Sergei Shvetsov, deputy chairman of the board of directors of the Bank of Russia, stated that the bank remains skeptical about the acquisition of cryptocurrencies and will not support increased access to crypto markets for Russian investors, most of whom are not certified, according to media reports.

Russia’s central bank is now working with commercial banks to delay payments made on digital asset exchanges.

The move aims to limit cryptocurrency purchases that Russian investors make based on emotion and are not qualified to do so. The move is likely to affect peer-to-peer and over-the-counter trading platforms.

Speaking at the International Banking Forum, the senior official explained: “When it comes to buying cryptocurrency for investment purposes, we are skeptical about this idea. We believe it’s different from traditional assets, it’s highly risky and has signs of a pyramid scheme.”

Trading

Bitcoin, the leading digital currency, traded lower on Sunday and slipped by 1.57 percent to $47,690.80 at 5:52 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most-traded cryptocurrency, was down by 3.46 percent at $3,357.70, according to data from CoinDesk.

 

 


UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal
Updated 19 September 2021

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal
  • Trade between the two countries was worth almost $8.1 billion in 2020

DUBAI: The UAE’s economy minister will lead a high-level delegation to Britain this week, the ministry said on Sunday, as the Gulf state seeks to deepen trade ties.

Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri and the delegation will meet British ministers, officials and representatives from the private sector to discuss recently announced UAE economic policies.

One of those policies includes the UAE seeking to seal what it calls a comprehensive economic agreement covering trade and foreign investment with Britain and seven other countries.

The delegation would also discuss ways to develop economic ties and strengthen cooperation in trade, investment, healthcare and energy, among other sectors, the ministry said.

The UAE last week announced it had expanded an investment partnership with the British government, committing  £10 billion ($13.7 billion) to invest in the UK over five years.

The UAE delegation will also include local government, investment company and private sector representatives, the ministry said.

Britain is the UAE’s third largest non-oil trade partner in Europe, with trade between the two countries worth almost $8.1 billion in 2020, it said.