THE Saudi government has recovered 400 billion Saudi riyals from the funds that some people usurped through corruption practices in the implementation of projects for years. This amount makes up for the deficit of the State — about 200 billion Saudi riyals each year. This will also reduce cost of projects in the future, because they will be carried out without commissions and intermediaries as practiced before the purge.
According to Saudi’s higher circles, a project that costs 300 million Saudi riyals gets an allocation of a billion Saudi riyals; so the extra 700 million Saudi riyals are divided between those who made it possible for the contractor to obtain the project.
In other words, the rate of squandering State wealth was more than two-fold. Such practices hamper the development of infrastructure in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; but with new measures in place to combat corruption, the situation has completely changed.
Another good thing is the fact that not all the recovered money were in cash. Some were in the form of shares and assets with annual investment returns. Even if we assume that the shares and assets constitute seven percent of what the purge has yielded, the income generated will be 28 billion Saudi riyals per annum. This new financial contributor will be added to other contributors which comprise 50 percent of the current budget from non-oil resources.
Everyone knows this is not the end of strides towards fighting corruption by Head of the Anti-Corruption Committee and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.
Several business figures were referred to the prosecution for questioning. This means the recovered amount will increase, considering what the Kingdom’s higher circles have mentioned. They said money, which has been wasted since 1980 (38 years ago), is estimated at four trillion Saudi riyals.
Naturally, not all squandered funds will be recovered through the kingdom’s corruption purge; but at least, the conditions are conducive for eradicating corruption. Undoubtedly, the new measures will turn off the corruption tap and enhance transparency in businesses.
This means that global investment confidence in the kingdom will grow. The misgivings, which prompted foreign companies to desert investments in the kingdom, will be eliminated.
All this will be credited to the welfare of projects which the government of Saudi Arabia is currently undertaking in a bid to diversify its income sources and wean itself off dependency on oil as the sole source of income.
All that remains to be said is: It has become clear that the remedy to this deadly disease of corruption and squandering of State funds is paying off, considering the process did not include personal considerations.
Actually, the measures taken made everyone the same in the eyes of the law. This is a successful bid in the long course of the kingdom’s building and regeneration efforts which will definitely transform it into a model in the region in terms of plucking out corruption.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah – Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times