Riyadh – Mubasher: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated that Saudi Arabia has started a “bold” reform programme under Vision 2030.
The reforms include diversifying the economy, giving a larger role to the private sector, increasing the number of jobs for Saudis in the private sector, and adjusting fiscal policy to ensure macroeconomic stability.
“Energy price reforms are a key priority, but there is scope for a gradual implementation to give households and businesses more time to adjust,” Tim Callen, head of the IMF team, said, noting that implementing non-oil revenue reforms, such as the excises and value-added tax, is very important.
The team’s statement showed that the government is reducing obstacles to private sector growth, including cutting down custom clearance times, making it easier to start a business, and moving toward completion of the new bankruptcy and commercial mortgage laws.
Additional reforms are expected to be announced in the coming months to boost the private sector, including an ambitious privatisation and public–private partnership (PPP) programme to reduce the role of the government in the economy, the statement added.
Callen described the Saudisation as “essential” and highlighted the importance of increasing the competitiveness of Saudi workers in the private sector.
The team also drew attention to the importance of female employment, saying that it will have a positive impact on the economy.
“Women are as well educated as men, and their participation in the labour force has been increasing in recent years. However, the level is still low which means that their skills and endeavours are not contributing as much as they could to the growth and productivity of the economy,” Callen stated.
Speaking about the Saudi financial sector, Callen described the banks as “well-regulated and supervised,” and added that the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has successfully managed emerging financial sector risks over the past year.
Efforts by the Capital Market Authority (CMA) to develop the local capital markets will provide more financing and saving opportunities in the domestic economy, the head of the IMF team said.