Saudi finance minister outlines ‘challenging and multidimensional’ strategy for change

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SOURCE: Arab News
Time: March 28, 2018

NEW YORK: Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan told the Saudi-US CEO Forum on Tuesday that the strategy for transformation was “challenging and multi-dimensional” but that if achieved, it will help robust economic growth and improve living standards in the Kingdom.
Al-Jadaan was delivering the keynote address to a packed audience at the Gotham Hall in New York, where 200 chief executives and other senior business people had gathered.
“We are here to build upon the success and the program launched in Riyadh during the first foreign visit by US President Trump last year.
“Our path forward is challenging and multidimensional, but we have programs underway that can make it successful,” he said.
He said that the main strategies driving Vision 2030 were the National Transformation Program, the fiscal balance program, the national industrial development program and the financial sectors development program.
He told the Americans in the audience: “You believe in the promises and the opportunities Saudi Arabia will provide.”
Al-Jadaan underlined the government’s commitment to reduce budget deficits and eliminate them completely by 2023. He added that the aim was to increase non-oil gross domestic product (GDP) by 3 percent per year, and that this would be helped by the changing import policy and by new bankruptcy laws.
On the possible initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, he said: “There is no decision on a listing yet, but what is sure is that we’ll list on the local market, the Tadawul.”
The forum had been welcomed by Lubna Olayan, CEO of the Olayan group and co-chair of the forum, who told the gathering that the economic diversification plan had a broad strategic vision.
“We all know about defense, security and hydrocarbons, but we want to go way beyond that,” she said.
The strategy was to accelerate growth through public-private partnerships, women’s empowerment, new sectors of the economy and the “giga projects” such as Neom and the Red Sea Resort.
“This cannot be achieved without the support of strong partners. The US-Saudi relationship goes back to the foundation of the Kingdom, and Saudis see the US as a source of knowledge that we can bring back home. Many of our youth are trained here in the US, and our youth are an even greater resource than our oil,” she added.
Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical Company and the other co-chair of the forum, said the reform program underway in the Kingdom was “profound and game-changing.”

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