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Wednesday , December 8 2021

A trillion for Saudi development in ’19

Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

GIVEN that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the economic and political engine of Gulf countries, it is natural to follow up any development in the Kingdom as it concerns everyone in this region. Based on this fact, whenever the economic movement in the Kingdom progresses, it has a positive impact on regional economies as a whole.

In this aspect, the budget for the next fiscal year, which the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques revealed a few days ago, is considered the biggest in the Kingdom’s history. This record high spending plan is based on the philosophy of persistence in development, taking into consideration the present and future requirements.

This course started with the ‘Saudi 2030’ vision which is moving as planned — without delay or obstacles; hence, every year the spending plan of the Kingdom increases as if it is competing with itself. Undoubtedly, the spending plan of 1.11 trillion Saudi riyals ($295 billion, Dh 1.07 trillion) is considered massive in every standard, especially in enhancing revenues from non-oil sectors and reducing the existing deficit; in addition to caring for the private sector and encouraging it to wake up from stagnation that it has been experiencing for years due to regional conditions and decline of global oil price.

Nonetheless, these economic obstacles turned into positive indicators which are pushing this vital sector towards challenge and work, particularly after matters were restored to the proper course through the campaign to combat corruption waged by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. The campaign led to radical changes in the management of projects, particularly the mega projects.

In one of his interviews, Prince Salman pointed out that Saudi Arabia has been suffering from corruption since the 1980’s till date. According to its experts, 10 percent of the government’s expenditure is looted annually — from the top of the Saudi hierarchy to the bottom — despite the series of campaigns that the government has been waging against corruption throughout the past years.

Prince Salman attributed the failure of the government to eradicate corruption to the fact that such campaigns against corruption were waged from the bottom of the hierarchy, not from the top. If we were to say that 38 percent of public wealth went into the tunnels of corruption, it is natural to assume the Kingdom was deprived of hundreds of millions of wealth which it deserves. Instead, such wealth went to the pockets of a few, and unfortunately, majority of them are non-Saudi opportunists.

We all saw how contracting companies and others in various sectors got rich quickly. Worst of all, the wealth was transferred outside the country for investment or extravagance. This wealth would have positively affected the economy if it was invested locally in development or productive projects. It means this wealth would have a better image before the process of rectifying the economic path started.

These major steps changed the view of international financial institutions on the Saudi economy which became more attractive for investments. It is able to reassure investors that their investments are in good hands, especially after eliminating corruption which used to hamper progress. In this positive development, the spending plan is unprecedented.

Based on the guidelines laid down in the past few years, it is clear that there is a new course reflecting the actual Saudi trajectory to work for the future and development in a manner that suits the Kingdom, its strategic location and its economic status. This is in addition to increasing the level of luxury and well-being for citizens, and its positive impact on all the people of Gulf countries.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah – Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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