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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Open for business: $15bn in deals signed at Saudi investment forum

Time: October 31, 2019  

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the FII forum in Riyadh. (SPA)

  • Foreign firms setting up in Saudi Arabia increase by 30%
  • Aramco IPO announcement ‘expected in days’

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia signed $15 billion in deals on Tuesday on the first day of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum in Riyadh.

The number of business licenses granted to foreign investors from July to September was the highest since 2010, said Invest Saudi, the government organization that facilitates and monitors foreign investment; 809 new foreign companies set up in the Kingdom, a 30 percent increase on the same period last year.

The record levels of deal making continued the positive momentum in inward investment, said Ibrahim Al-Omar, governor of SAGIA, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority. “As Saudi Arabia welcomes investors and decisionmakers from across the globe to this annual global investment platform, the agreements exchanged here today reflect the strength and diversity of the economy,” he said. “Under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is undergoing am ambitious program of economic reform, and the world is taking notice.”

The Kingdom this month rose 30 places to 62nd in the World Bank’s annual league table for ease of doing business, and was the world’s most improved and reforming economy. “The indicators are clear,” Al-Omar said. “Saudi Arabia is not only open for business, it’s the economy of the future.”

Among more than 20 deals signed at the forum were a $700 million investment agreement between SAGIA and Modular Middle East, a prefabricated building company, and a $200 million agreement between SAGIA and Shiloh Minerals through which the British company will develop its production capacity and invest in upstream mining in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Aramco was high on the list of deals by value. Transactions with partners from around the world included a $1 billion deal with Spanish pipeline company Tubacex. There were also deals between Saudi entities and American, Brazilian and Norwegian companies.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the Kingdom’s Public Investment Authority and chairman of Aramco, launched the third annual forum in front of 6,000 delegates and about 300 global investment chiefs and policymakers.

“This is more than double the first FII,” he told them. “The growth has been incredible. Until now it has been an annual conference, today it is an institution, and it will be a global hub to build relationships.

“Here we don’t see politicians just talking politics, asset managers just talking about assets, philanthropists just talking about society. Here we bring it all together — diversity, cooperation and friendship.”

The forum’s opening day was attended by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, King Abdullah of Jordan, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and White House special adviser Jared Kushner.

Informal discussions were dominated by speculation about the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco. Sources expect an announcement within days, with share trading on the Saudi exchange, the Tadawul, at the beginning of Decem.

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SCTH: Saudi Arabia to boost tourism to 10% of GDP

28/10/19

Ahmed Al Khateeb, Chairman of the Saudi commission for tourism and national heritage gestures during an interview with Reuters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 25, 2019. (REUTERS)

Al-Khateeb shared Saudi Arabia’s strategy for developing its emerging tourism industry in line with Vision 2030 goals to build a thriving society and diversified economy
HOKKAIDO: Saudi Arabia has shared its vision for the future of tourism in an address by Ahmad Al-Khateeb, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, at a meeting of G20 tourism ministers in Japan.
Al-Khateeb shared Saudi Arabia’s strategy for developing its emerging tourism industry in line with Vision 2030 goals to build a thriving society and diversified economy. He also highlighted the Kingdom’s commitment to furthering tourism’s contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The meeting offered Saudi Arabia a chance to outline its plan to place tourism, one of the world’s fastest-growing economic sectors, among the main subjects of discussion when the Kingdom assumes the G20 presidency in 2020.
Al-Khateeb said: “Our strategy is to grow tourism from 3 percent to 10 percent of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product, and to increase visitor numbers from 18 million a year to 100 million by 2030. This will, in turn, provide a total of 1.5 million jobs or 10 percent of the total workforce, predominantly among the young. We are committed to working with our partners across the tourism ecosystem to achieve these goals while protecting the economic, environmental and social well-being of the local communities affected by tourism.”

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Saudi oilfield attacks ‘had zero impact on economy,’ says finance minister

Time: September 19, 2019  

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan. (SPA)
  • Weekend strikes failed to interrupt market supply or revenue flow, Kingdom’s finance minister says

LONDON: Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that the weekend attacks on the Kingdom’s oil infrastructure would have “zero” impact on the country’s economy as concerns about global oil supplies eased.

“In terms of revenues there is zero impact,” Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an investor conference in Riyadh.

“Aramco continued to supply the markets without interruption and therefore revenues should continue as they are.”

In a separate interview with Bloomberg, Al-Jadaan said that after a boost to state spending, the government was “seeing momentum” in the non-oil economy and that he expected the sector to hit the 2.9 percent expansion forecast by the International Monetary Fund. Oil prices retreated after the comments, having jumped more than 20 percent at one point on Monday — the biggest spike since the 1990-91 Gulf War.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Wednesday it remained in regular contact with authorities in Saudi Arabia and that for now, markets remain well supplied with ample stocks available.

IEA member countries hold about 1.55 billion barrels of emergency stocks in government-controlled agencies, which amount to 15 days of total world oil demand.

In addition, IEA member countries also hold 2.9 billion barrels of industry stocks as of the end of July, a two-year high that can cover more than a month of world
oil demand, the Paris-based agency said.

These stocks include about 650 million barrels of obligated emergency stocks, which can be made immediately available to the market when governments lower their holding requirements.

“Recent events are a reminder that oil security cannot be taken for granted, even at times when markets are well supplied, and that energy security remains an indispensable pillar of the global economy,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.

“This is why the IEA remains vigilant about the risk of disruptions to global oil supplies.”

The Saudi stock market gained 0.6 percent on Wednesday and Saudi dollar-denominated bonds also recovered after retreating on Monday. Earlier Commerzbank said that the oil price rally that followed the attacks was not sustainable and, despite rising regional tensions, lowered its 2020 price forecasts because of slowing demand growth.

The bank cut its Brent forecast for next year by $5 to $60 per barrel and kept its 2019 outlook unchanged at $65.

It also reduced its 2020 forecast for WTI to $57 from $62. Commerzbank forecast WTI to average $58 this year, Reuters reported.

While the attacks had “painfully demonstrated the risks to oil supply,” raising the possibility of short-term price spikes, prices should fall again in the coming weeks as long as there is no “total escalation of the situation,” analysts said.

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives 55th monetary authority’s annual report

September 04, 2019

The report was presented to the king at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah by Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan and SAMA Gov. Dr. Ahmed Alkholifey. (SPA)

  • The report reviewed economic and financial developments in the country during 2018
  • The king noted SAMA’s important role in serving the national economy

JEDDAH: King Salman on Wednesday received the 55th annual report of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), which reviewed economic and financial developments in the country during 2018.

The report was presented to the king at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah by Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan and SAMA Gov. Dr. Ahmed Alkholifey. The king noted SAMA’s important role in serving the national economy.

Alkholifey reviewed key indicators in SAMA’s report, and said due to the state following balanced economic policies, the Saudi economy saw positive developments in most of its sectors in 2018.

Gross domestic product (GDP) at constant prices grew 2.4 percent against a 0.7 percent contraction in 2017.

The GDP of the oil sector increased by 3.1 percent, non-oil GDP grew by 2.2 percent, and prices remained stable with inflation at 2.5 percent.

The current account surplus in the Kingdom’s balance of payments increased significantly to SR265 billion ($70.6 billion), compared to a surplus of SR39 billion in 2017. Non-oil exports increased by 22 percent to reach SR236 billion.

The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf and Tamim bin Abdul Aziz Al-Salem, assistant special secretary to the king.

Also on Wednesday, King Salman received Nasser Hamdy, who bid farewell to the monarch on the occasion of the end of his tenure as Egypt’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi ICT plan delivers $13 billion boost for economy

Time: August 28, 2019  

IT Minister Abdullah Al-Sawaha said the strategy will draw a roadmap for the future of the Kingdom in innovation and the digital economy. (SPA)
  • Al-Sawaha: The strategy will draw a roadmap for the future of the Kingdom in innovation and the digital economy

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector will increase its contribution to the national economy by SR50 billion ($13.3 billion) in the next five years, thanks to a major digital development strategy.
Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Sawaha said that the five-year strategy will expand the Kingdom’s digital capabilities in ICT, allowing the sector to pursue optimal growth in future projects as part of Vision 2030 economic reforms.
The plan will also help the sector keep pace with national requirements and global developments, and attract more foreign technology investment.
Al-Sawaha said the strategy “will draw a roadmap for the future of the Kingdom in innovation and the digital economy.”
As part of the plan the level of Saudi manpower in the sector will be raised to 50 percent by 2030. It also aims to promote and create opportunities for women and boost foreign investment in the sector.

FASTFACT

• The five-year strategy will expand the Kingdom’s digital capabilities in ICT, allowing the sector to pursue optimal growth in future projects.

• The plan will help the sector keep pace with national requirements and global developments, and attract more foreign technology investment.

The Saudi minister said that the ICT strategy will strengthen development activities, and raise the effectiveness and performance of the public and private sectors by enabling digital transformation.
“It will make the Kingdom one of the world’s leading countries in the field of ICT,” he said.
The strategy is part of the ministry’s efforts to establish a robust and sophisticated digital structure that will enhance the role of the ICT sector in building a digital community, digital government, a thriving digital economy and an innovative future for the Kingdom.

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IMF gives strong assessment of KSA economic reforms

Time: August 04, 2019  

The executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has commended the Saudi authorities for the progress in implementing their economic and social reform agenda, including the introduction of the value-added tax and energy price reforms.
In their assessment report completed on July 10, the executive board affirmed that reforms taken by the Saudi government have started to yield positive results and that the outlook for the economy is positive.
The board emphasized the importance of the Kingdom’s commitment to prudent macroeconomic policies and appropriate prioritization of reforms, which will lead to promoting non-oil growth, creating jobs for nationals, and achieving the objectives of Vision 2030 reform plan.
It has underscored the importance of fiscal consolidation, key to rebuilding fiscal buffers and reducing medium-term fiscal vulnerabilities. It also encouraged the Saudi authorities to build on their fiscal reforms by continuing with planned energy and water price adjustments and increases in expatriate labor fees.
It encouraged the Saudi government to continue its efforts in connection with improving expenditure management and strengthening the country’s fiscal framework, noting that, despite the important reforms, spending has increased. The board welcomed reforms to strengthen public procurement, which will help to improve the efficiency of government spending and reduce the risks of corruption.
The IMF, however, considered that publishing more detailed budgets and spending execution data would enhance fiscal transparency, and viewed a robust asset-liability management framework as essential to guide analysis of the public sector balance sheet, cash flows and risk versus return trade-offs.
The statement issued by the board welcomed the ambitious reforms taken by the Saudi government in connection with developing the non-oil economy by strengthening the business environment and implementing effective industrial policies that could encourage the development of new sectors of the economy.
It said that the policies taken by the government to develop new economic sectors would be successful if Saudi workers posses the necessary skills for the labor market. Therefore, wages and productivity must be well aligned and labor market policies should focus on setting clear expectations by strengthening education and training and increasing female employment.
The board welcomed the review of social assistance programs to ensure they provide adequate support to those in need and are well-targeted. They also welcomed the continued resilience of the financial sector and ongoing capital market reforms.
Lastly, the board commended Saudi Arabia’s ongoing strengthening of the AML/CFT framework and its recent membership of the Financial Action Task Force.
The IMF Executive Board Assessment (2) of the Saudi government economic, financial and social reforms is fair, especially when it is linked to the expected positive result of the national economy stated in the statement released by the IMF mission last May upon conducting the 2019 Article IV (1) consultations.
Talat Zaki Hafiz is an economist and financial analyst.

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Saudi Arabia boosts spending in second quarter as business reforms quicken

Time: July 30, 2019  

The Finance Ministry reported a widening budget gap of about SR33.5 billion. (Shutterstock)
  • The Finance Ministry reported a widening budget gap of about SR33.5 billion

LONDON: Saudi Arabia increased spending in the second quarter as the government boosted stimulus measures to spur growth.

The Finance Ministry reported a widening budget gap of about SR33.5 billion ($8.9 billion) for the period.
“A key positive trend is the pickup in capital expenditure, which points to some progress with investment activity and is likely to be in line with a wider trend,” Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, told Bloomberg.
A weaker oil price is encouraging Gulf states to quicken economic reforms aimed at reducing reliance on hydrocarbons while boosting job-creating capital expenditure on major projects.
“The results reflect the progress made in the realization of developmental projects according to the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision and confirm the efficiency of the financial and structural reforms implemented by the government,” said Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
“These reforms include the diversification of government revenue sources by increasing non-oil revenues, reforming and developing the Public Financial Management to raise the efficiency and effectiveness of spending through many measures including the adoption of a government procurement system,” added Al-Jadaan.
Social protection expenditures were increased in programs such as the Citizen Account Program along with Social Security, cost of living allowance and student rewards.

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Saudi Finance Ministry welcomes positive IMF report on Kingdom’s economic health

Time: July 24, 2019  

Main entrance to the Saudi Ministry of Finance headquarters in Riyadh. (MOF photo)
  • The IMF said it expects non-oil real growth in Saudi Arabia to rise to 2.9 percent in 2019

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Finance on Tuesday welcomed a statement issued by the executive board of the International Monetary Fund in which it commended the progress made by the Kingdom in the implementation of financial, economic and social reforms.

It followed the IMF’s latest Article IV consultations with Saudi Arabia, which concluded on July 10. These regular, usually annual, consultations are carried out to assess a nation’s economic health and development, and identify any potential problems that could cause instability.

The IMF said it expects non-oil real growth in Saudi Arabia to rise to 2.9 percent in 2019 thanks to increased government spending and growing confidence in the economy. The organization said the government’s continued commitment to prudent economic policies and structural reforms will be key factors in promoting non-oil growth, job creation and achieving the goals set out in Vision 2030.

The board in particular welcomed reforms aimed at improving the management of public finances, including a new government procurement system that will help to make government spending more efficient and reduce the risk of corruption. It also praised the efforts being made to enhance the transparency of public finances, and the reforms adopted by the government to develop the non-oil economy. It stressed the need to rebuild fiscal surpluses and reduce the risks to public finances in the medium term, and emphasized that containment of the government wage bill and an increase in capital expenditure in a systematic manner could help to generate financial savings for this year.

The board also highlighted the Kingdom’s strong financial sector and ongoing reforms in the Saudi financial markets. It praised the ongoing efforts to strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework, and its recent accession to full membership of the anti-money laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force. The Saudi Government’s commitment to joining the IMF Standards for Data Dissemination by the end of this year was also commended.

“The statement affirms that Saudi Arabia has made good progress in implementing economic and structural reforms and that these reforms are bearing fruit and are reflected in economic performance,” said Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan. “The Board sees that the outlook for the Saudi economy is positive.”

He added that the IMF board’s assessment reflects the ambitious reform efforts being made by the Kingdom at all levels, and stressed that the government is working to achieve financial and economic targets in accordance with the aims of Vision 2030 to maintain financial stability, achieve high economic-growth rates and support economic diversification through special initiatives, programs and projects that contribute to these objectives.

Al-Jadaan also welcomed the board’s endorsement of the government’s reforms, including measures to support financial sustainability, the financial markets, the expansion of financial services and the implementation of AML/CFT legislation and procedures at all levels in institutions.

He added that the new competition and procurement system will help to improve transparency, regulation and governance of procedures related to government procurement, in accordance with the best global practices.

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