Kingdom sets ambitious goals for Vision 2030
Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030 is sovereign development on steroids, a supremely ambitious plan to speed up the diversification and liberalisation of a largely closed economy.
At the heart of the vast project are several equally serious and committed individuals, most notably Mohammed bin Salman and finance minister Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan, a key ally of the Crown Prince and a vociferous proponent of Vision 2030. Al-Jadaan has all the right credentials.
Before his appointment as finance minister in November 2016, the trained lawyer was chairman of the Capital Markets Authority where he eased rules to attract more global institutional money into the country.
Saudi Arabia has not shied away from setting out some ambitious targets. By 2030, it aims to increase the private sector’s contribution to economic output to 65% of GDP, from 40% at present, and to boost inward FDI from 3.8% of GDP to 5.7%. In April 2018, the country said it aimed to raise up to $11bn in non-oil revenues by 2020 from a privatisation process that will include 14 public-private partnerships worth up to SR28bn ($7.5bn). The programme also aims to corporatize the ports sector and privatise several power and desalination plants.
Al-Jadaan has proven more than able to adapt to a changing financial climate. The eagerly awaited IPO of oil major Saudi Aramco, originally slated to raise up to $100bn, has been shelved, with the kingdom focusing on other ways to raise cash to meet its Vision 2030 goals and to diversify an economy projected by the IMF to grow by 1.7% in 2018 and 1.9% in 2019. In August, PIF, the national sovereign wealth fund, borrowed $11bn from banks while the kingdom is mulling the potential sale of a $70bn stake in conglomerate Sabic, the Middle East’s largest publicly traded corporation, to Aramco.