HRH Crown Prince Thanks Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for his Speech Before Shura Council

Friday 1442/3/27 - 2020/11/13
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Riyadh, November 13, 2020, SPA -- His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, thanked the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for the contents of his speech before the Shura Council, affirming that the Kingdom was able, in a short and rapid period, to achieve unprecedented accomplishments in the contemporary history of the Kingdom in less than 4 years.
HRH the Crown Prince said, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the largest and most important economies in the world and we are striving hard to double the size and diversification of the economy. To pursue this, our government considers the non-oil GDP as the main indicator of success for our economic plans, because the gross domestic product is naturally affected by the fluctuations of the quantities of oil production, and the government is not the major driver behind it."
HRH further said "In 2016, the value of the non-oil GDP was estimated at 1.8 trillion riyals, and we in the Kingdom began developing plans to double that at a fast pace. The result was an accelerated growth in the past three years by 1.3% in 2017, 2.2% in 2018, 3.3% in 2019 and more than 4% in the 4th quarter of 2019, despite some economic challenges.
HRH also affirmed, “Yet, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we, relative to our counterparts in the G20, are considered one of the 10 best countries in dealing with the economic repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic in the G20. We are more optimistic that the pace of growth will accelerate with the ending of the coronavirus pandemic and the return to full normalcy, to become one of the fastest G20 nations to witness growth in non-oil GDP in the upcoming years."
HRH the Crown Prince also indicated that the Kingdom has made the unemployment file one of its priorities, adding that, "Increasing employment rates is the top priority of the government since work has begun according to Vision 2030 to reform the labor market and make available more jobs for male and female citizens as Vision 2030 has set an unemployment rate of 7% in 2030 as one of its goals."
HRH added, "In 2018, the unemployment rate reached approximately 13%. And due to an increase in the efficiency of government agencies, the investments of the Public Investment Fund and other government programs and initiatives, we have seen the unemployment rate go down successively to 11.8% at the beginning of 2020. By the end of 2020 we will be one of the lowest impacted G20 country by the coronavirus pandemic, citing the increase of the unemployment rate in some G20 countries to 15% and 20% and more. We believe that the programs and policies set by the government will enable us to achieve an unemployment rate of 7% before 2030."
HRH the Crown Prince pointed out that women represent 64% of the total unemployment rate, stressing that "our next goal will be to improve the citizen's income."
His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman also pointed to the Kingdom’s efforts to enhance non-oil revenues and their impact on the economy and said, “We have expanded the government's direct and indirect spending since 2005. To keep pace with this, and to maintain the expansion in spending, the government, in accordance with Vision 2030, has undertaken a wide restructuring process for a large number of sectors that enhance the state's non-oil revenues, and not make them subject to fluctuations of oil prices which may limit our ability to plan and set or achieve any targets."
HRH added, "In light of what was announced last year for the 2020 budget projections, we were talking about expected revenues for the state, which were previously estimated at 833 billion riyals, of which 513 billion riyals were oil revenues. After the collapse of oil prices this year, oil revenues actually decreased to approximately 410 billion riyals. These revenues alone are insufficient to cover even the salaries bill estimated at 504 billion riyals in this year's budget, not to mention the difficulty of financing other items which include capital spending by 173 billion riyals and social security benefits by 69 billion riyals as well as operation and maintenance bill estimated at 140 billion riyals and others, which means an economic recession and millions of jobs lost."
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince said, "If we didn’t increase non-oil revenues to about 360 billion riyals this year, and if we remained at 2015 levels of revenues estimated at approximately 100 billion riyals, we would have had to reduce the salaries of employees in the public sector by more than 30%, cancel allowances and bonuses completely, fully stop capital spending, and we wouldn't have had the ability to properly operate and maintain state assets and we even would have stopped supporting expenditures' item."
HRH further said, “As painful as it was to cancel the cost of living allowance, we have succeeded in preserving citizens' salaries and most of the allowances and bonuses, and continued with capital spending, amounting to 137 billion riyals, and increased spending on operation and maintenance, and bearing the high costs of healthcare due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which amounted to 188 billion riyals with full commitment to the social benefits expenditure, subsidies and financing support. All of this makes us remember the importance that our nation is not to be affected by any volatility in any sector whatsoever, and that diversification of revenues is important and vital to the state’s sustainability, and we are seriously working on that through the investments of the Public Investment Fund and supporting new sectors such as tourism, sports, industry, agriculture, transportation, space, mining, etc., in addition to working with the private sector."
HRH praised the Vision's programs related to the basic service sectors, saying, “Vision 2030 addressed all sectors in the economy, yet I would like to set an example in the housing sector. For decades, the housing sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has faced challenges due to the absence of planning and weak governance of government work as a main reason, as the government was working with mechanisms more appropriate to the sixties, seventies and eighties of the last century. Since that time, neither the government nor its bureaucracy have ever been restructured, which made it difficult to achieve anything despite available resources and capabilities. These challenges have accumulated until home ownership became one of the most prominent social problems in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and one of the main concerns for Saudi citizens over the past two decades. When starting to prepare a comprehensive program to reform the economy, we made a clear commitment in Vision 2030 that we will seek to raise the percentage of citizens' ownership of housing by 5% within 4 years, and the percentage was then approximately 47%, which means reaching 52% in 2020, a good percentage according to international standards. However, today we have reached 60%, exceeding the target by 8%."
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince affirmed, "I have no doubt that we will surpass the 2030 target of 62% in 2025, which means that we will exceed the target in 2030. We will be one of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of home ownership. Not to mention that during the past twenty years, the citizen’s waiting list for home ownership was approximately 15 years, and today eligibility has become immediate. This is an example of one sector that was one of the most complicated issues in the Kingdom, yet it turned into an unprecedented success story with innovative solutions, lower costs and better services, and contributed to the creation of nearly 40,000 direct jobs and more than 115 billion riyals in the GDP.
HRH also talked about the achievements that have been made in the digital sector and said “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has achieved the first place in the digital competitiveness at the level of the G20 countries in the past three years, and has jumped 40 ranks in the digital infrastructure index for communications and information technology. We have invested more than 55 billion riyals in the digital infrastructure of the Kingdom, which resulted in an increase in the average internet speed until we became the first country with 5th generation speed, and also became among the top ten countries in the world in mobile internet speed, after we were not on the list of the top 100 countries. We tripled the number of homes connected to the optical fiber network from 1 million homes to 3.5 million. This unique global digital transformation enabled us to continue work for more than 94% of government agencies and the private sector during the pandemic, in addition to raising the rate of localization of jobs in this sector to 50%.
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince emphasized the contribution of the Public Investment Fund to the development of the economy, saying, “The Public Investment Fund has become one of the major drivers of growth for the Saudi economy. We were able to double the volume of the Public Investment Fund from 560 billion riyals to more than approximately 1.3 trillion riyals, with a steady pace towards achieving the goal of Vision 2030 that the fund’s assets exceed 7 trillion riyals. Not only that, since the fund was established, the rate of return (RoR) on investment did not exceed 2% in the best case. Today, the Public Investment Fund does not achieve less than 7%. We have investments whose returns exceeded 70%, and others exceeded 140%. This is an exceptional change that provides the state with sustainable income that has never been available in the past. Without the process of reforming the Public Investment Fund, which was carried out under directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to reconstitute its board of directors and assign me to chair it for its great importance in the present and future of the Kingdom's economy, in addition to setting policies to pump huge investments into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the past years, we would have lost more than half of the non-oil growth, along with the absence of a large number of jobs that have been created and the collapse of demand for many services, products and materials as well as the bankruptcy of a large number of companies, especially in light of low oil prices."
His Royal Highness added, "We can imagine the Saudi economy without the fund’s investments, as the fund’s local investments amounted to 78 billion riyals in 2017, then 79 billion riyals in 2018 and 58 billion riyals in 2019. We are targeting 96 billion in 2020 with a total of 311 billion riyals during the past four years which contributed to the creation of more than 190,000 jobs, noting that the fund's domestic investment in developing sectors did not exceed 3 billion riyals annually before 2017. In 2021 and 2022, the fund will pump about 150 billion annually into the Saudi economy with an annual increase until 2030. This liquidity will be provided through monetization and recycling of the Fund's investments to enter into new opportunities, create a local economic cycle that enables the emergence of new sectors and contribute to providing new revenues for the state."
10:43 LOCAL TIME 07:43 GMT


HRH Crown Prince Thanks Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for his Speech Before Shura Council 2 Riyadh
Regarding the continuing campaign to wipe out corruption in the Kingdom, HRH the Crown Prince stated that corruption, has spread like a cancer in the Kingdom over the last decades to the extent that it was depleting around 5% to 15% of the State budget, which translates to a loss of at least 5% to 15% in the performance of domains like services, projects and number of jobs.
HRH the Crown Prince said, "The phenomenon perpetuated for not only one or two years but accumulated for 30 years".
HRH Crown Prince added, "Truly, I consider this scourge an enemy that is endangering development and prosperity, adding that it is also the reason behind losing a number of great opportunities for the Kingdom".
HRH the Crown Prince said, "However, it is now something from the past and could not, as of today, be repeated any way, on any scale without strong and painful punishment for whoever, regardless of his social status, dares to commit it.
Citing the outcome of the anti-corruption campaign, which everybody recognizes, HRH the Crown Prince said, "the total amount collected from the settlements of the anti-corruption campaign stood at SR247 billion over the last three years, representing 20% of the total non-oil income in addition to tens of billions of Saudi Riyals and other assets being transferred to the Ministry of Finance, they will be recorded as revenues after liquidating assets such as real estate and stocks."
Recalling the Kingdom’s efforts in combating the scourge of terrorism and extremism, HRH the Crown Prince said, "The phenomenon of extremism was spreading among us to the point that we were -in the best of cases- coexisting with it.
HRH the Crown Prince added,"At that time, wiping out extremism was not an option and controlling it was not expected".
HRH the Crown Prince continued "But in 2017, I pledged to eradicate the scourge of extremism, and we set upon a serious campaign that tackled the roots of the phenomenon, and we were able to get rid of a 40-year old ideological project within one year."
HRH the Crown Prince stated that "extremism is no longer acceptable in Saudi Arabia today, it is no longer on the surface, instead, it is invisible, in hiding and rejected by the Saudi people. Nevertheless, we are going to proceed with fighting any extremist phenomenon, practices or ideas. The Saudis proved their inherent compassion and rejection of these ideas, which came from outside entities using religion as a pretext. Saudis will never allow this to exist among them again."
HRH the Crown Prince stated that "Hate speech is a key reason behind the recruitment of extremists, including hate speech that uses freedom of speech and human rights as a justification, this kind of rhetoric attracts a counter rhetoric by extremists, which is -naturally- rejected by us. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia condemns any terrorist act or practices that generate hatred and violence and is committed to to confronting extremist rhetoric. The Kingdom rejects any attempts to link Islam with terrorism, and affirms that intellectual freedom is an instrument for respect and tolerance, as Islam criminalizes these terrorist acts and forbids bloodshed and the killing of the innocent."
"We warn anyone who might think of committing a terrorist act and taking advantage of hate speech that stir peoples’ emotions that we will impose the most severe, painful and deterring punishment."
"On the other hand, we hope that the world desists from contempt of religions, and attacking religious and national figures under the slogan of freedom of speech, as such practice manages to create a fertile environment for extremism and terrorism to grow."
HRH the Crown Prince said, "since the first terrorist act taking place in the Kingdom in 1996, not a single year has passed without us being targeted with a terrorist operation. This trend continued to increasingly ravage the country until 2017, to the extent that we witnessed at least one terror act on a quarterly basis, or even less."
HRH the Crown Prince added, "Terrorists have managed to infiltrate security headquarters between 2012 and 2017. By mid-2017, and following the restructuring of the ministry of interior, and the introduction of security reforms, successful terrorist operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were drastically reduced to almost zero, except few individual attempts that failed to achieve their hateful goals. Our work today is preemptive, we are going to continue to strike with an iron fist whomever dares to tamper with our security and stability”.
HRH the Crown Prince said," Based on its cultural legacy and unique geographic and demographic diversification that qualify it to occupy a leading position in the sectors of tourism, culture, sports, entertainment etc, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made great strides and witnessed qualitative leaps in new and promising areas.
In this regard, we are working according to Vision 2030 to develop those sectors, which we see as having a very promising vision, he said, citing a number of achievements and figures being reached in a very short time as follows: the sector of tourism was restructured in the past period, increasing its contribution to the gross domestic product to 3.6 percent in 2018.
Such a starting move has created new labor sectors and contributed to the employment of hundreds of thousands of Saudi female and male citizens."
HRH the Crown Prince added, "We, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have suffered from desertification, scarcity of rain and repeated dust waves, he said, adding that since 2016, we have worked to increase the rate of nature reserves from 4% to more than 14% of the total area of the country. A special unit for environmental security was established with a force of 1100, poised to reach 10000 within the coming four years, the Crown Prince said.
"We have, over the past years, adopted a number of initiatives to increase the rate of vegetation, we are going to submit remarkable initiatives to protect the global environment in our capacity as current President of the G20."
Regarding the sports sector, HRH the Crown Prince said "The rate of citizens practicing sports increased from 13% in 2015 to 19% in 2019. The contribution of the sports sector to the GDP grew from SR2.4 billion in 2016 to SR6.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 170% within only two years".
HRH the Crown Prince added that great effort was exerted to develop all sports federations and increase their number. For instance, since its inception, the Saudi Automobiles Federation has not played host to any international championship, while in the last two years only, it has successfully hosted the world’s most prominent championships. They are Formula E, Formula One and Dakar rally.
He said that in terms of football, we were able to upgrade the market value of the Saudi league to top the Arabian leagues and rank among the world’s best 20. The same effort is being made at other sports federations.
In the sector of entertainment, HRH the Crown Prince said "We are keen to facilitate the obtaining of licenses for events, which increased the number of events being held in the Kingdom to more than 3400 in 2019, these activities contributed to rising domestic spending by citizens, residents, visitors and tourists inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, resulting in the creation of tens of thousands of fixed jobs and hundreds of thousands of seasonal jobs”.
10:51 LOCAL TIME 07:51 GMT


HRH Crown Prince Thanks Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for his Speech Before Shura Council 3 Riyadh
In the cultural sector, HRH the Crown Prince pointed out that “Engaging in the cultural fields was among the things considered to be prohibited. Today, the Ministry of Culture established 11 commissions that are working hard to develop all cultural sectors, which had a very significant impact on creating jobs, developing the economy, improving the quality of life and making our country more capable of attracting international talent and tourists.
HRH the Crown Prince added that “the space sector has a direct impact on the communications and technology as well as on many sectors such as environment, transportation and others. It will be a main supporter of many sectors in the near future. Therefore, I was keen to submit a proposal to establish a space commission and suggest a board of directors to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in 2018. Now, we are working through the Economic and Development Affairs Council and relevant authorities to finalize the Kingdom’s space strategy for the upcoming ten years, and to delegate the space commission to implement it. Its details will be announced later.
HRH the Crown Prince added that improvement of the work environment and development of the services are a major enabler. For example, the total requirements for obtaining investment licenses have been reduced by 50%. The commercial registrations and municipality licenses are immediately and electronically issued. The clearance of containers, which used to take two weeks, is now implemented within 24 hours . More than 279 services on the "Absher" platform were launched to help 18 million beneficiaries, in addition to the "Najiz" platform which has contributed to receiving tens of thousands of electronic justice and notary services, which are be finalized within minutes.
HRH the Crown Prince highlighted the rights reforms by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , pointing out that "in the past, Saudi women could not travel without a permit, could not attend sports and cultural events, couldn't drive a car, or practice a lot of work and could not solve their issues without a guardian. The Saudi woman has suffered from this situation for decades. Today, the Saudi woman enjoys an unprecedented phase of empowerment. We worked to empower the Saudi woman in the field of labor and personal status. Today, the Saudi woman is effectively a partner with the Saudi man in the development of our nation without discrimination. I am not just talking about the woman driving. I am talking about providing her with an opportunity to lead the development of her country in a comprehensive sense. For example, the rate of women's participation in the labor market has doubled from 17% to 31%.
With regard to the rights of expatriates, we have taken numerous measures to restructure the contractual relationship in a manner that preserves their rights and contributes to raising the degree of professionalism in the labor market. We have worked to correct the conditions of nearly half a million expatriates in the Kingdom, to attract qualified workers with added value. The initiative to improve the contractual relationship was launched in order to give the expatriate laborer more freedom of career mobility. This initiative is expected to raise laborer’s productivity and increase competitiveness in the Saudi economy.
His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman concluded that “these achievements would not have been possible without the faith and work of the Saudi citizen, who today is pioneering initiatives and accomplishing work. I have assigned the Minister of Media and the relevant ministers to hold a regular press conference to discuss developments in the government’s work, activate communication channels and respond to inquiries.
Finally, I would like to renew my thanks to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for launching opportunities and supporting the work and achievements. I thank the Saudi people for their great efforts through which we have achieved a lot. I thank the public and private sectors for their concerted and hard work to achieve the objectives of the Kingdom Vision 2030."
10:55 LOCAL TIME 07:55 GMT