Saudi plans to invest $3.2 trillion to boost private sector

By: AFP      Published: 01:54 AM, 31 Mar, 2021
Saudi plans to invest $3.2 trillion to boost private sector

Saudi Arabia announced plans Tuesday to pump $3.2 trillion in fresh investments by 2030 to boost the private sector, as the OPEC kingpin pushes to diversify its oil-reliant economy.

The announcement by de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes as the petro-state battles high unemployment and a coronavirus-triggered downturn.

"The total investment injected... into the national economy is expected to reach 12 trillion riyals ($3.2 trillion) by 2030," Prince Mohammed said in a speech on state television.

That amount includes three trillion riyals from the kingdom's vast Public Investment Fund. The initiative would help "strengthen the private sector", create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and provide support to Saudi companies, Prince Mohammed added.

The announcement comes after the crown prince said in January that the PIF, the sovereign wealth fund, would invest $40 billion annually in the domestic economy over the next five years.

The kingdom is pushing to boost job creation and revive businesses decimated by the pandemic. Joblessness in Saudi Arabia touched 14.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2020, dipping slightly from an all-time high of 15.4 per cent in the previous quarter, according to official data.

Last year, the twin shocks of the pandemic and a drop in oil prices prompted the top crude exporter to triple its value-added tax and suspend a monthly allowance to civil servants to rein in a ballooning budget deficit.

Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, has been struggling to attract foreign investment, a key pillar of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's "Vision 2030" economic diversification plan to boost non-oil revenue.