Responsible Lending: A risk mitigant of consumer lending

20/01/20

Since 1999, commercial banks operating in Saudi Arabia have expanded their consumer loans to individuals, and as consequence personals loans have risen from SR38.4 billion ($10.2 billion) in 2001 to SR324.7 billion at the end of Q3, 2019 (excluding credit cards loans extended to individuals, totaling SR18.3 billion for the same period).
The main reason for this significant rise in personal loans is the high demand on such loans from retail customers, supported by the service of the Saudi Arabian Riyal Interbank Express (SARIE) which provides direct transfer of salaries to customers’ accounts at banks, guaranteeing these loans to enable them to deduct installments from customers’ accounts on due dates electronically.
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has chosen to control the huge expansion in personal loans by issuing “principles of responsible lending” to encourage lending that meets actual needs of consumers.
The principles aim to enhance financial inclusion by providing adequate financing for all borrowers, while taking into account a reasonable deductible percentage ratio that the consumer can afford.
In addition, the principles focus on ensuring fairness and competitiveness among creditors, making sure credit evaluation procedures and mechanisms are effective and applied to all creditors fairly.
Moreover, the principles dictate that creditors must adopt a clear method for evaluating the creditworthiness of the consumer, to ensure his/her ability to repay. These criteria and procedures must be applied to all borrowers before granting them any type of loan, and must be documented in the customer’s file held by the lending institutions.
Based on a credit study and assessment of a consumer’s financial state, the lending institutions must also identify and classify the regular basic expenses of various borrowers, such as food expenses, and housing and services expenses, which depend on whether the consumer is a homeowner or tenant. They must take into account the health, transportation, communications and insurance expenses of the consumer, which are all affected by their number of dependents.
In my opinion, SAMA has succeeded in encouraging responsible lending by issuing such principles, evidenced by the noticeable shift to asset-based financing, as mortgage lending has grown by 21 percent in the third quarter of 2019 compared to the same period of the previous year, while the personal loans offered by financial institutions to its customers have shown a drop of 1.2 percent for the same period.
I totally agree with Jonathan Westley, a financial analyst, in saying: “Responsible lending is to act in a customer’s best interests, ensuring affordability, transparency of terms and conditions and supporting a borrower if they experience repayment difficulties.”

Talat Zaki Hafiz is an economist and financial analyst.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

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Continuity key for Saudi Arabia as it prepares for G20 summit: T20 chair

20/01/20

Naoyuki Yoshino. (Photo/Ahmed Fathi)
  • “It’s very important for Saudi Arabia to be part of the G20, in a sense that you are showing Saudi Arabia to the whole world”

RIYADH: Continuity is important for Saudi Arabia as it prepares for the G20 summit, the dean of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.
The Kingdom last December assumed the presidency of the 2020 G20 summit, making it the first Arab nation to do so, and the summit will be held in Riyadh in November.
Naoyuki Yoshino, from the ADB, chairs the G20’s “ideas bank” Think20 (T20) and spoke about the transfer of knowledge to Saudi Arabia as it prepares for the world’s leading international economic forum.
Each host country selects task forces for the T20 to ensure continuity on policy recommendations.
“It’s important for Saudi Arabia to choose the topics which Saudi Arabia is facing and coordinate with other nations,” he told Arab News. “After we met in November of last year, I reiterated the importance of new topics and the succeeding of topics to ensure continuity. The co-chair of each task force is also very important as they can summarize each topic. We cannot exclude various topics but rather include them selectively, that will be the key for the success of the co-chairs. The Saudis have been preparing their task forces since our November 2019 meeting. They’ve selected the right people who will be engaged with the right topic. An example would be we in Japan have added the ‘Aging Population and its Economic Impact’ task forces as it is a topic of concern to us and many Asian countries. It’s a lesson for the next chair to learn from, as your country is young and with the change in demographic, the task force is a good topic to look into from both sides.”
He said it was important for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to use technology, for startups to have proper funding and for innovators to be drivers of the economy.
“Expanding sales networking is difficult but with the use of technology, internet advertisement is key to helping distribute products.”  He recommended that Saudis set up internet companies, meet with innovators and provide a financial plan in order to get proper funding to diversify the economy.
There was a lot of room for growth because of the Kingdom’s young population. “It’s very important for Saudi Arabia to be part of the G20, in a sense that you are showing Saudi Arabia to the whole world. The success of the G20 is very important and the choice of topics is too. They have to set up very attractive topics that the whole world is going to be interested in.”

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SAGIA chief to lead delegation to WEF meeting in Davos as number of overseas firms starting business in Saudi Arabia breaks record

20/01/20

Al-Omar will lead the SAGIA delegation as part of a significant Saudi presence at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, which begins on Tuesday. (Photo/Markus Schreiber)

DUBAI: Foreign investors are flocking to Saudi Arabia as the reform program under the Vision 2030 strategy accelerates, new official figures show.

In 2019, according to statistics released by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), there was a 54 percent increase in the number of international companies setting up operations in the Kingdom, with 1,131 new foreign businesses launched — a record year.

“Leading growth sectors include construction, manufacturing and information and computer technology, as demand in these industries increases alongside infrastructural development and progress of the Kingdom’s giga projects driving forward in line with Vision 2030,” said SAGIA’s Invest Saudi report.

“During 2019, 193 new construction, 190 manufacturing and 178 ICT (information and communications technology) companies were established, compared to 111, 113 and 111 established in the three sectors in 2018 respectively.” The pace of new foreign startups accelerated in the final quarter, the report said.

SAGIA Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar said: “Guided by Saudi Vision 2030, our country is undergoing a remarkable economic transformation. The continued prosperity of the Kingdom depends on sparking innovation, attracting foreign investors and empowering the private sector.”

He added: “The positive growth numbers that we have seen in the final quarter of 2019 — and indeed throughout the entire year — represent a significant milestone on the road to 2030.”

The Kingdom’s growing foreign investment landscape is underpinned by sweeping economic and social reforms made throughout 2019, aimed at improving Saudi Arabia’s business climate and attracting new investments.

The impact of these reforms is being recognized on a global scale: Saudi Arabia was ranked the world’s top improver and reformer by the World Bank, climbing 30 places in its Doing Business 2020 report, SAGIA said.

“The goal of our reform program is to help realize the potential that Saudi Arabia holds for the benefit of Saudi nationals and improve our competitiveness,” said Al-Omar, who will be among the Saudi delegation at the forthcoming World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos.

Snow falling in Davos, Switzerland, where around 3,000 political and business leaders will gather for the World Economic Forum this week. (Shutterstock)

“The investment opportunities that the Kingdom offers international companies also creates opportunities for the transfer of skills, expertise and best practice to local communities across the Kingdom, while providing new private sector job prospects for young Saudi men and women,” he added.

“We consider foreign companies who look to Saudi Arabia as growth partners for their business expansions — whether they seek a joint venture with Saudi companies or choose to set up on their own,” he said.

“Out of the new international companies setting up in Saudi Arabia in 2019, 69 percent were full foreign ownership, while 31 percent were joint venture partnerships with local investors. Our 2019 figures therefore demonstrate how integral new international businesses are to the success of our journey toward 2030.”

The Invest Saudi report found that the growth in the number of foreign startups came from “long-standing and strategically-important Saudi partners” such as the US and UK, with 100 UK companies and 82 US ones setting up in 2019, compared to 24 for both countries in 2018.

India, Egypt, Jordan and China were also among the top countries represented, with India’s share of the market increasing dramatically from 30 companies established in 2018 to 140 in 2019, driven by high-profile royal visits to the country in February 2019.

Other top countries from 2018, Jordan and France, were well-represented in 2019, the report said.

FASTFACT

The number of international companies setting up in Saudi Arabia rose by 54 percent last year.

SAGIA is continuing to introduce new measures to make setting up in the Kingdom easier and more efficient.

“We want to make it easier for foreign companies to set up and do business in Saudi Arabia,” said Al-Omar.

“We have taken global best practice models and combined them with local knowledge and insights in order to eliminate unnecessary barriers to doing business, while making it easier for our new partners from abroad to understand our unique Saudi culture and customs and how they can better integrate and contribute.”

SAGIA has increased its global profile, and will have a prominent presence at the forthcoming WEF annual meeting in Davos.

“We have played an important role in attracting foreign companies to establish operations in the Kingdom throughout 2019, facilitating a series of high-level investor forums in countries such as China, India, Germany and South Korea, as well as hosting delegations to the Kingdom from the US, UK, Japan and Russia,” Al-Omar said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Nomura Middle East head: Saudi-Japan business links to move beyond oil

Time: 13 January, 2020

  • Makoto Kinone talks to Arab News during Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the Gulf
  • He views the region as a place to do business and strengthen the relationship between Japan and Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Makoto Kinone is head of the main Middle East investment banking operations for Nomura International, the foreign arm of one of Japan’s biggest and oldest banks.
Nomura has been involved in the region — mainly Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain — for several decades, and has advised clients on billions of dollars of trade finance and corporate transactions. It also has a big asset management business in the region.
On the eve of the visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Gulf, Kinone told Arab News how he views the region as a place to do business, and the strengthening relationship between Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Q: Explain the background to Nomura’s presence in the Middle East. What projects have you been involved in here, in Saudi Arabia, in particular?
A: With a presence in the Middle East region since 1974, Nomura has long-standing relationships with Saudi government bodies, financial institutions and corporates.
Nomura was licensed as an investment bank by the Capital Market Authority in May 2008 and began operations in July 2009, becoming the first Asian firm authorized to provide investment banking services in the Kingdom.
Nomura Saudi Arabia is focused on arranging and advising in securities, and has delivered a number of customised solutions to clients.
Most recently, Nomura acted as sole financial adviser to one of the largest petrochemical companies in the Kingdom, on a sell-side transaction in the mergers and acquisitions field.

Q: What do you see as the synergies between Japan and Saudi Arabia from a business and financial point of view?
A: Culturally, Japan and Saudi Arabia have some commonalities — the value of long-term relationships, the need for balance and careful deliberation in decision making. This translates into the business and financial world where there has been stable growth in trade and economic agreements between the two countries.

Q: Japan is a big importer of crude oil from the Kingdom, but does this relationship extend beyond the oil trade?
A: Although the current business relationship is dominated by energy-related trade, there has been a focus on finding ways to promote a balanced relationship (cooperation in areas such as technology, general industry, security and finance) that is mutually beneficial to both countries.

Q: What is Nomura’s assessment of the current economic situation in Japan?
A: Japan continues to face domestic and international headwinds. An aging population at home, as well as a cyclical global economic slowdown and international political uncertainty, has made an impact.
That said, macro-fundamentals show that Japan’s cyclical slowdown, which has continued since 2018, is coming to an end. Domestic economic growth is expected to start gathering pace, but not until the end of this year.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Entertainment: The future of Saudi Arabia’s non-oil economy

13/01/20

The Quality of Life Program (QLP), a major component of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan, aims to improve people’s lifestyles by developing an ecosystem to support and create new options that boost citizens’ and residents’ participation in cultural, environmental and sports activities.
The QLP aims to create jobs, diversify economic activity, and raise the status of Saudi cities so that they rank among the best in the world. One of the program’s main objectives is to develop and diversify entertainment opportunities, including electronic games facilities, family entertainment centers, water parks, cinemas, theme parks, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, public parks, theaters and an opera house.
To support the QLP, the government created the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) in 2016 for the purpose of organizing and developing the entertainment sector and support its infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
With the support and cooperation of various government sectors and private entities, the GEA has managed to improve quality of life in the Kingdom. It has also managed, in a very short time, to diversify and enrich entertainment experiences nationwide.
The great success of Riyadh Season is a good example of the GEA’s outstanding ability to enhance the entertainment industry in the Kingdom, as evidenced by the 10.3 million people who visited the festival. Riyadh Season was able to generate more than SR1 billion ($267 million) for the GEA, and indirect revenues via the Saudi payments system Mada exceeded SR4 billion during the official period of the festival (Oct. 15 to Dec.15, 2019).
Riyadh Season was not only successful in attracting visitors to the capital, but also in creating 34,700 direct jobs and 17,300 indirect (seasonal and volunteer) jobs for Saudi men and women. Riyadh Season’s success is expected to be replicated in the series of current and upcoming festivals in the Kingdom.
I believe that Saudi Arabia can easily establish a strong entertainment industry that can support and diversify the economy, especially as the government is striving to reduce dependence on oil. A strong entertainment industry in the Kingdom will be able to support the growth of the gross domestic product, improve local content, support small and medium-sized enterprises, increase foreign direct investment and create jobs.

Talat Zaki Hafiz is an economist and financial analyst.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

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Saudi-German relationship: Working toward common goals

22/12/19

I participated last week in the Saudi-German Joint Commission meeting in its 20th session in Berlin with the Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan leading the Saudi delegation while the German delegation was led by Peter Altmaier, Germany’s federal minister for economic affairs and energy.

In view of my long-standing relationship with the UK banking, real estate and private sectors, I usually focus my international participations mainly on the Saudi-UK business council meetings. But when my friends Khaled Juffali, head of the Saudi side of the Saudi-German Business Council and Dr. Faisal Al-Sugair, president of the Saudi Center for Strategic Partnerships, informed me about this forum, I immediately decided to participate, especially after BMG had entered into several advisory engagements with leading German companies in sectors including renewable energy, logistics and waste management.

Saudi Arabia and Germany have a lot in common as the Kingdom’s economy is the largest in the Middle East and North Africa while Germany is the largest in the EU. The Kingdom and Germany are also influential members of the G20, over which the Kingdom currently presides.

The Kingdom is the second-largest Arab trading partner to Germany, which indicates the importance of the German market to the Saudi economy as one of the five major industrial countries in the world and the fourth largest exporter to the Kingdom.

When I met my German counterparts at the forum, it was noticeable that the recent financial and economic reforms under Vision 2030 have made a positive impact on them. They appreciate that these reforms will make comprehensive changes to the Saudi economy, creating a developmental shift in both the medium and long term. These reforms have contributed to a significant increase in consumption and private investment growth rates during the first half of 2019.

During the past months, economic indicators showed continuous improvement in economic performance, as the Kingdom stepped up its efforts to develop and improve the business climate, local content development and enhance the competitiveness of the economy to improve the ranking of the Kingdom in many international indicators.

In my opinion, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Germany is unique and these meetings, organized by the Saudi Center for international Strategic Partnerships, are expected to progress the historical relations that have linked the two countries for more than 90 years.

• Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

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Saudi Arabia jumps 72 global positions in key World Bank logistics ranking

Time: December 20, 2019

  • The Kingdom jumped 72 global positions in “Trading Across Borders” measure
  • It is an indicator which compares the time and cost of exporting and importing goods

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has been ranked as the world’s top ease of doing business improver by the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2020 report.

The Kingdom jumped 72 global positions in “Trading Across Borders” measure — an indicator which compares the time and cost of exporting and importing goods.
The reforms included reducing customs clearance from seven to ten days to 24 hours, the reduction of the manual inspection rate at customs from 89 percent to 48 percent, and the reduction of the number of documents required to import from 12 to 2 and to export from 8 to 2.
“The recognition of Saudi Arabia’s progress by the World Bank confirms our sustained efforts to drive efficiency and competitiveness in the country’s logistics sector,” said Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, transport minister and Saudi Logistics Hub chairman. “The Saudi Logistics Hub is now inviting foreign investors and business partners to join our ambitious journey to consolidate Saudi Arabia’s status as a leading logistics hub.”

Earlier this year, the Saudi Logistics Hub unveiled a $35 billion spending plan to transform the Kingdom into a global logistics center.
The Saudi Logistics Hub is currently on a two-month global roadshow, with a final stop in Germany in January 2020, which aims to promote investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia’s logistics industry. It also took in the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, China, Japan, Singapore, India, and Germany.
Saudi Arabia has invested more than $100 billion into transport and logistics infrastructure over the last decade which aims to capitalize on the 12 percent of global maritime trade that passes through the Red Sea.
The Saudi Logistics Hub is a government initiative formed by transport and logistics groups in Saudi Arabia with a mandate to support growth in the sector.

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Unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia drops to 5.5 percent

16/12/19

  • It revealed an increase in the participation rate of the total population, which scored 45.5 percent for the third quarter of 2019

RIYADH: The General Authority for Statistics has issued a labor market bulletin for the third quarter of 2019, showing that the unemployment rate decreased to 5.5 percent, compared to 5.6 percent for the second quarter of the same year.

The results showed a decrease in the unemployment rate for the total Saudi population to 12.0 percent, compared to 12.3 percent for the second quarter of the same year.

It also revealed an increase in the participation rate of the total population, which scored 45.5 percent for the third quarter of 2019, compared to 45 percent for the previous quarter, while the economic participation rate for Saudi women remained at 23.2 percent for both periods.

According to the bulletin, the total number of Saudi workers reached 3,100,812 employees, compared to 3,090,248 in the second quarter.

The Ministry of Civil Service and the Human Resources Development Fund said the total number of Saudis looking for jobs during the third quarter of 2019 was 1,025,328.

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SABB posts net profit of SR1,913m for 9 months

10/11/19

Lubna Sulaiman Olayan

The Saudi British Bank (SABB) recorded a net profit of SR1,913 million ($510 million) after zakat and taxes for the first nine months ending Sept. 30, 2019. This is a decrease of SR954 million or 33.3 percent compared to SR2,867 million for the same period in 2018. SABB recorded a net profit of SR1,061 million after zakat and taxes for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease of SR1 million or 0.09 percent compared to SR1,062 million for the same period last year.
Lubna Sulaiman Olayan, chairman of SABB, said: “The third quarter of 2019 represents the first full quarter since the legal completion of our groundbreaking merger of SABB and Alawwal banks on June 16, 2019. Since that date the board and the management team have continued the journey to unite the two organizations around a common strategy, customer base, and values set. The new board has met on two occasions to date to discuss strategy, culture, branding, talent development, integration, and maintaining our high standards of customer experience and risk management.”
The operating income was SR6,530 million for the first nine months ending Sept. 30, an increase of SR1,038 million or 18.9 percent, compared to SR5,492 million for the same period in 2018.
Loans and advances to customers were recorded at SR152.5 billion for the nine months ending Sept. 30, 2019, an increase of SR40.4 billion or 36 percent, from SR112.1 billion on Sept. 30, 2018.
Customer deposits amounted to SR183.4 billion for the nine months ending Sept. 30, 2019, an increase of SR54.1 billion or 41.8 percent, compared with SR129.3 billion for the same period last year.
The bank’s investment portfolio of SR58.7 billion for the nine months ending Sept. 30, 2019, showed an increase of SR24.8 billion or 72.9 percent, from SR34 billion for the same period last year.
The total assets of SR257.9 billion for the nine months ending Sept. 30 showed an increase of SR82.8 billion or 47.3 percent from SR175 billion on Sept. 30, 2018.
The earnings per share were SR1.12 compared to SR1.91 for the corresponding period last year.
Olayan said: “Our financial performance in the third quarter was more reflective of the merged bank’s current returns as it included a full quarter of business returns and did not repeat the one off merger-related accounting we reported in the second quarter. Credit losses were lower as expected, the temporary cost of integration increased in line with plan, growth remained challenging in the current economic environment, and the pressure of a declining cycle in interest rates began to be felt. Nevertheless, SABB generated a solid return for the period to support capacity to lend and capacity to distribute dividends. The bank remains strong, profitable, and well-positioned.”
She added: “I would like to thank our customers, shareholders, management team and our longstanding global partner, HSBC, for their continued support and commitment, as well as our regulators and government agencies for their vision and guidance.”

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Finance minister’s pre-budget statement paints rosy picture of Saudi economy

Time: November 01, 2019 
Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan speaking to media in Riyadh. (AN photo by Ahmed Fathi)
  • Efforts to develop and grow role of private sector in Kingdom continue to pay off

RIYADH: Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan on Thursday said government expenditure is expected to be SR 1,020 billion in 2020. Efforts will be made to improve the efficiency of spending without any disruption to diversification and transformation plans, he added. Revenues are projected to be about SR 833 billion in 2020, with a budget deficit of about 6.5 percent of GDP.

The figures were revealed in the minister’s pre-budget statement for fiscal year 2020. It gave details of developments in public-finance performance during 2019, and set out the main fiscal objectives and economic estimates for 2020 and the medium-term future. It also highlighted the key initiatives and programs that will be implemented during the coming fiscal year within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030.

Al-Jadaan said that the Kingdom’s fiscal policy aims to strike a balance between maintaining fiscal sustainability and enhancing economic growth and development, while also supporting economic transformation in line with Vision 2030. It does this by striving to increase efficiency and effectiveness within the framework of fiscal discipline, improving the basic services provided to citizens, diversifying government revenue sources and empowering the private sector.

The cabinet’s approval of the government’s Tenders and Procurement Law will ensure fairness and transparency, promote competition, prevent the influence of personal interests, protect public money and provide fair treatment to competitors, he added, which will help to ensure equal opportunities.

The minister also said that the preliminary economic results and indicators reflect significant progress in the past year. Real GDP achieved a positive growth rate of about 1.1 percent in the first half of 2019, helped by the growth of the non-oil sector by 2.5 percent in the same period. Initial estimates indicate that GDP is expected to grow by 0.9 percent in 2019, with non-oil GDP growth rates expected to accelerate. Performance is expected to continue to improve in 2020, with GDP growth projected to reach 2.3 percent.

Total expenditure in 2019 is expected to be SR 1,048 billion, Al-Jadaan said, as the government aims to achieve fiscal discipline and stability as key objectives for sustainable economic growth in the medium term. Revenues for fiscal year 2019 are expected to be SR 917 billion, representing 1.2 percent growth compared with 2018, he added. The ratio of non-oil revenues to non-oil GDP is expected to increase to 16 percent by the end of 2019, compared with 7 percent in 2012.

“The budget deficit is expected to continue to decrease in this fiscal year 2019, reaching 4.7 percent of GDP, compared with 5.9 percent last year,” said Al-Jadaan.

He added that the 2020 budget will continue to implement programs and initiatives designed to strengthen the role of the private sector in the economy as the main driver of economic growth and job creation. Currently, there are 22 support initiatives for the private sector, including cash subsidies, commitments and financing guarantees, offered by entities such as the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Housing and the General Investment Authority.

Al-Jadaan said that the 2020 budget will continue efforts to improve the efficiency of public-finance management to maintain fiscal sustainability and maximize return on expenditure. This takes into account the potential effect of domestic and international developments during budget execution, he added.

“The 2020 budget will also focus its expenditure on Vision 2030 realization programs, which represent the main tool to realize economic transformation objectives, including housing programs, the quality of life program, privatization program, mega projects, private-sector stimulus packages and other major projects across various sectors,” the minister said. These projects will help to support non-oil GDP growth in 2020 and over the medium term, he added.

The implementation of these programs and initiatives has led to performance improvement in a number of sectors, Al-Jadaan said, the most notable of which is construction. It returned to positive growth in 2019 after declining during the previous three years.

In general, the economy has resumed positive and high growth across a number of economic sectors.

“In the first half of 2019, wholesale, retail-trade, restaurants and hotels, and finance, insurance, and real-estate activities grew by 3.8 percent and 5.1 percent respectively compared with the same period last year,” said the minister.

Transport, storage and communication, and community, social and personal services activities, including arts and entertainment, increased by 5.6 percent and 5.9 percent respectively compared with the same period in 2018.

The government is continuing its efforts to develop local content, enhance the competitiveness of the economy and improve the business environment, said Al-Jadaan. He noted that the non-oil private sector experienced positive growth during the first half of 2019 for the first time in three years, supported by policies designed to stimulate the private sector.

He said that releasing a pre-budget statement for a second consecutive year highlights the government commitment to reinforcing governance and controls on public finance, while enhancing the policy of financial disclosure by strengthening transparency principles.

With this in mind, the Kingdom recently joined the International Monetary Fund’s Special Data Dissemination Standard, which is considered one of the best international standards in the dissemination of national fiscal and economic data.

“This is an important step on the Kingdom’s path to enhancing fiscal disclosure and transparency in accordance with international standards,” said Al-Jadaan.

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