Time: April 27, 2019
For foreign investors, the factors they consider attractive in an economy include a favorable geographical location, productive human resources, the relatively low cost of doing business, good cost-efficiency indicators, orderly and liberal legislation and the availability of the infrastructure. The Saudi government has recognized the importance of these factors and strives to create an environment attractive to both local and foreign investors to earn their confidence.
In 2018, Saudi Arabia implemented a number of initiatives and reforms that aim to improve its business environment and enhance its competitiveness. In this regard, the Executive Committee for Improving the Performance of Private Sector Businesses (Tayseer), headed by the minister of commerce and investment, Majid Al-Qassabi, was formed to improve business performance in the private sector in line with Saudi Vision 2030. The intention was to increase the competency of relevant government services and place the Kingdom among the top countries in the world in terms of the ease of doing business.
The Tayseer committee has been established to pursue four main objectives: To increase the efficiency of government services; to position Saudi Arabia among the top-20 countries globally for doing business; to implement regulations aimed at stimulating private sector growth; and to increase private sector engagement with direct involvement in decision-making. Moreover, more than 100 additional reforms are on the list for approval and implementation.
Tayseer is working on more than 300 initiatives that aim to improve the business environment. Following the launch of the Meras platform, starting a business now requires only one step and one day. It used to take 17 days and 10 steps. Also, business and commercial visas are issued within 24 hours of a mission receiving the request, and commercial delegations’ visas are issued within two days. Previously, the issuance of commercial visas took several weeks.
This effort has been reflected in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2019 report, where Saudi Arabia ranked 4th in terms of the number of reforms that would contribute to improving business environment at the G20 level.
The Kingdom ranked 92 out of 190 countries competing annually to be among the best countries in the ease of doing business. The Kingdom provided 51 reforms on all indicators measured by the report.
The Kingdom also achieved its first progress since 2012 in the World Competitiveness Report (GCR) of 2018, issued by the World Economic Forum, where it ranked 39 out of 140 countries.
There is no doubt that the committee has done a significant job in eliminating difficulties and bottlenecks faced by many companies and establishments, especially small and medium enterprises.
I am very proud of our country’s notable achievements so far and I hope business facilitation reforms will continue to achieve our Kingdom’s vision objectives of increasing foreign direct investments. By the same token, I am quite confident that the youthful government officials will tackle, in a speedy fashion, any difficulties and challenges which may face foreign direct investors.
Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.