First Published: 2017-05-02

Saudi aims for transparency with budget report
Saudi to issue quarterly budget update as part of efforts to woo investors as it tries to reduce budget deficits caused by collapse in energy revenues.
Middle East Online

Kingdom's vision 2030 plan aims to develop its industrial, investment and small-medium business base

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that it will issue a quarterly budget progress report for the first time as part of efforts to boost transparency while diversifying its oil-dependent economy.

The world's biggest oil exporter is wooing investors as it tries to reduce budget deficits caused by a collapse in energy revenues.

"We will for the first time in Saudi announce, possibly in a couple of weeks or less, the first quarterly results of the budget," Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan told the Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference.

Under its Vision 2030 plan released last year, the kingdom aims to develop its industrial, investment and small-medium business base to employ more Saudis and reduce its reliance on oil revenue.

"The government made a clear commitment that they will increase the level of transparency," al-Jaadan said.

"They will submit to international laws on transparency" and respond to the needs of the private sector which requires timely data to make investment decisions, he added.

The Vision 2030 plan coincided with a plunge in global oil prices that began in 2014 and left Saudi Arabia with a budget deficit for this year initially projected at $53 billion (48.5 billion euros).

In September authorities froze salaries and limited benefits for civil servants -- who comprise the bulk of the workforce -- as part of austerity measures.

But last month King Salman restored those benefits.

Minister of State Mohammed al-Shaikh later explained that the move coincided with "the substantially better-than-expected budgetary performance" in the first quarter after the government took measures to cope with its budget deficit.

These included cuts in subsidies and delays in major projects.

In October Saudi Arabia raised $17.5 billion in its first international bond offering.

The kingdom is also preparing to sell less than five-percent of energy giant Aramco next year. In April it cut taxes on oil companies in a major move that could attract investors.

Saudi Arabia's stock exchange, Tadawul, has opened to foreign investors and in February began an alternative trading platform, Nomu, to boost small and medium firms.

Two more companies have been approved for offerings on Nomu in addition to the seven that already trade, Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, Vice Chairman of the Capital Market Authority, told the same conference.

"The first day of trading on the Nomu market was larger than most of the main markets in our GCC countries, which gives you an indication of the pent-up demand," he said, referring to the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

 

Britain probes jihadist network amid row with US intelligence

Trump gets rough ride in EU, NATO meeting

Qatari FM says country victim of smear campaign, particularly in US

Probe finds over 100 Mosul civilians killed in US air strike

Faz3a, a local NGO mobilising young people to help Mosul refugees

Turkey says over 4,000 judges, prosecutors dismissed since coup

US-led strikes kill 35 civilians in east Syria

Palestinian president says US should mediate hunger strike

Libya says working closely with Britain over concert attack

EU leaders, Erdogan meet in bid to ease tensions

Myanmar to deport Turkish family wanted for alleged coup links

Iran says it has built third underground missile factory

Saudi minister confident on oil output deal

Egyptians brace for austere Ramadan

Egypt blocks several media websites including Jazeera

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

Israel uneasy over 'crazy' regional arms race

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester

Palestinian hunger strike row draws solidarity, controversy

Britain raises terror alert, deploys troops after concert massacre

Qatar probes state news agency hack

At least 20 migrants killed in Mediterranean

Israeli joy at Trump visit lacks substance

Oman evacuates Australian man from Yemen

Bahrain police open fire on Shiite protest, kill five

Turkey arrests hunger strikers on terror charges

Jewish extremists ejected from Aqsa mosque compound

Prominent Egypt rights lawyer detained

Oil producers to extend output curbs at OPEC meeting

NATO aims to break Turkey-Austria partnership deadlock

Tunisia tensions simmer after protester's death

Terrorist bomb attack kills 22 at UK pop concert

Bahrain police raid Shiite sit-in killing one protester

Trump says Israelis, Palestinians ‘can make a deal’

Five dead in Syria car bomb attacks

Syria civilians suffer deadliest month of US-led strikes

US forces raid Al-Qaeda in Yemen, kill seven jihadists

Islamists to join Algeria cabinet despite poor results

Tunisia's 2.1% GDP growth marks economic upturn

Trump meets Palestinian leader in Bethlehem

Istanbul demolishes nightclub targeted in New Year attack

WHO says 315 cholera deaths in Yemen in under one month