Officials of the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) praised the efforts of the Saudi leadership, embodied in King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and President of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs Mohammed bin Salman, and relevant government institutions, in approving the state budget for the year 2018, which projects around SAR 783 billion in revenues, SAR 978 billion in expenditures, and around SAR 195 billion in deficit. It is the Kingdom’s largest budget in history and an indication of the success of its economic and financial policies.
CSC Chairperson Eng. Ahmed Al Rajhi conveyed the optimism of the Saudi business community, represented in CSC and Saudi chambers of commerce and industry, as the budget figures reflect a steady improvement in national economic performance, and an effective influence by the economic reforms, restructuring and diversification in the Kingdom. He commended the efforts of the Saudi leadership in supporting the economy through various initiatives that enhance the involvement of the private sector, including the committee to improve performance in the private sector, the National Center for Privatization & PPP, and the private sector stimulus plan, among other initiatives that aim at enhancing the investment environment and attracting local and foreign investments in line with the Saudi Vision 2030.
For his part, CSC Vice Chairperson Dr. Sami Al Obaidy said that the 2018 budget focuses on investing in human capital and sectors relevant to the interests of the citizens, and policies that ensure rationalization and optimization of spending in regards to vital projects of high revenues. In addition to policies that reduce the economic impact on citizens, which will benefit the Saudi people who are the main drivers of the economic process. He added that the additions to the state budget items and prudent allocations of funds reflect the professional and institutional policies adopted so as to achieve fairness and balance between the different sectors according to priorities, policies, and development plans, as per the Saudi Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program 2020.
CSC Vice Chairperson Muneer bin Saad stated that the budget met the expectations of both, the Saudi citizens and business community alike, as it indicated a plan to move forward in increasing efficiency in spending, reducing oil dependency, focusing on projects and sectors that support the Saudi Vision 2030, improving services and infrastructure, human development, and development projects – which will offer the private sector various investment opportunities. He urged concerned bodies to implement the budget programs and projects with administrative and financial efficiency, commending at the same time the efforts of the Ministry of Finance in this regard, including its accelerating of transfers of budget items and licensing contracts and projects through the E-portal “Eitimad” which enables government bodies to implement their projects and facilitate the payment of private sector receivables at the required speed.
CSC Secretary General Dr. Saud Al Meshari praised the emphasis in King Salman’s address on maintaining balanced development across all regions of the Kingdom, without distinction, and enabling citizens to realize their ambitions. In addition to the SAR 53 billion allocations to municipalities and secretariats, which will positively impact the services provided to the Saudi citizens. He also pointed to the opportunities that the budget will create in regards to fostering local and foreign investments in line with the Saudi Vision 2030, including increasing the private sector and FDI’s contribution to national economy, and diversifying the economic base as a means to sustain development beyond the oil industry.
Dr. Al Meshari expects for the budget to have a positive impact on living standards, private sector institutions, and the Saudi economy as a whole, and consequently, enhance the Kingdom’s position in world economy.
The CSC officials concluded their statements by expressing the commitment of the Saudi business community towards achieving the Kingdom’s economic and social endeavors.