Saudi economic diversification plan finalized
REUTERS photoSaudi officials have finalized a detailed plan to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil and have sent it for cabinet approval, official media said on June 6.
The National Transformation Program (NTP) will elaborate upon Vision 2030, an 84-page document released in April by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 30, who is leading the reform charge.
At the heart of the Vision is a plan to float less than five percent of state oil firm Saudi Aramco on the stock market.
The proceeds would become part of the world’s largest state investment fund, with $2 trillion in assets.
Profits from the investment fund would help economic diversification and provide an alternative to oil revenues that have fallen by about half since 2014.
The collapse has accelerated Saudi efforts to move away from petroleum which still accounts for the bulk of government income.
The main economic coordinating body, the Council of Economic Affairs and Development chaired by Prince Mohammed, on June 5 night decided to submit the “final version” of the NTP to the cabinet for approval, the Saudi Press Agency said.
The cabinet normally meets on Mondays. A press conference is expected in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, the summer home of the government, on June 6 night.
According to Vision 2030, the NTP relates to the government’s role “in implementing the initiatives necessary for delivering on national priorities.”
It said opportunities for partnering with the private sector were being looked at, “as well as innovative administrative and funding approaches. We are detailing specific initiatives that have clear performance indicators.”
Among its wide-ranging goals the Vision aims to reduce unemployment, increase women’s participation in the workforce, boost private sector economic contributions, and develop cultural and entertainment activities in the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most conservative societies, but more than half of its citizen population is younger than 25.