Saudi Prince unveils sweeping 15-year plan to end ‘addiction’ to oil: Reuters

Bureau25-04-2016, 09:00 PM

According to the Reuters report, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced a sweeping reform plan. As part of his Vision 2030 reform plan, Prince Mohammed said the state-controlled Public Investment Fund had been restructured to become a hub for Saudi investment abroad, partly by raising money through sales of shares in national oil giant Saudi Aramco, Reuters reported.

Prince Mohammed said Riyadh would raise the capital of its public investment fund to $2 trillion from $160 billion and would sell up to five per cent of shares in state oil giant Aramco.

“We are speaking about more than $2 trillion. We expect the valuation to be more than $2 trillion. In addition to that there are other assets that will be added to the fund, and part of it is already added. It could turn into a global investment fund with a size of up to $3 trillion dollars, ” Reuters quoted him as saying.

His “Vision 2030” envisaged raising non-oil revenue to $160 billion by 2020 and $267 billion by 2030 from $43.6 billion last year. But the plan gave few details on how this would be implemented, something that has bedevilled previous reforms, Reuters report.

The part privatization of Aramco was also central to the plans, and Prince Mohammed said it would be transformed into an energy company that he valued at more than $2 trillion, and that up to 5 per cent of it would be listed on the stock market. “Aramco’s IPO would have several benefits, the most important of which is transparency,” the Prince is quoted by Bloomberg News as saying, “Aramco would have to announce its earnings every quarter. It will be observed by all Saudi banks, all analysts and Saudi thinkers as well as all international banks and think tanks. You’ll have great supervision overnight.”

The government ran a deficit of $98 billion or 15 per cent of gross domestic product in 2015 and this year’s budget plan aimed to cut that to $87 billion, Reuters quoted officials as saying.

In interviews to Bloomberg News, the Saudi Prince has talked of the country’s also plans to set up a holding company by the end of next year for defence industries as it seeks to meet more of its military needs domestically. The kingdom will also restructure several contracts and tackle wasteful spending in the defence industry.

The kingdom aims to generate 35 per cent of the economy from small and medium enterprises, up from 20 per cent, according to the plan. It’s also plans to raise non-oil revenue to 1 trillion riyals ($266.6 billion) from 163 billion riyals. The kingdom also wants to reduce unemployment among Saudis to 7 per cent from 11.6 per cent, according to the document. The plan includes allowing expatriates to own property in selected areas, and simplifying visa processes. The kingdom also aims to raise home-ownership rate to 52 per cent by 2020 from 47 per cent currently.

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