• 2:24 PM
  • 04 December 2021

Saudi Arabia launches bill

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Saudi Arabia launches bill

Saudi Arabia has published a bill covering partnerships between the Government and the private sector, in a move to launch billions of dollars of infrastructure projects and attract new foreign investment.

The bill, published on Sunday evening, gives investors exemptions from some labor laws and restrictions on property ownership, as well as other regulations.

The National Center for Privatization said it would receive public observations and comments on the bill over a three-week period prior to the promulgation of the law at a date yet to be determined.

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Riyadh announced in April that it was seeking to achieve non-oil revenues of between 35 and 40 billion riyals (9 to 11 billion dollars) from the privatization program by 2020.

Some of the money will come from the sale of assets, while the remainder will come from public-private partnerships, which include the investment of private infrastructure companies and their access to a financial counterpart for their operation for a period of time before they are finally transferred to the state.

The authorities have been talking for two years about public-private partnerships as an essential means of diversifying the economy away from oil exports.

To date, however, little real progress has been achieved, owing to the lack of a legal framework covering such projects.

Riyadh hopes to use public-private partnerships to launch investments in school facilities, desalination plants, transport infrastructure and other projects.

The bill recognizes the need to move state employees away from projects, and to exempt some companies from achieving the minimum number of Saudi nationals in the workforce, which are essential sources of concern for potential investors who are keen to reduce spending on employment as much as possible.

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At the same time, the bill indicates that the rules may be relaxed to allow foreigners to own property except those in Mecca and Medina, where real estate can be rented for limited periods.

The bill also allows competitors for public-private partnership contracts to challenge the award of tenders by the Government, in an effort to increase transparency and attract a large number of offers.

The Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources has announced that it has amended laws to facilitate private investment in Saudi mining industries, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.