Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Saudi Arabia plans to become less dependent on oil

Saudi Arabia's cabinet has agreed on a broad-based economic reform plan, known as Vision 2030, revealing how the oil-reliant state plans to diversify its economy over the next 14 years.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the deputy crown prince, said on Monday that the country was building up its public investment fund to become a major player in global markets.
He said Saudi Arabia was restructuring its housing ministry to increase the supply of affordable housing, and creating a "green card" system within five years to give expatriates long-term residence.
Salman al-Ansari, founder and president of the Washington DC-based Saudi American Public Relations Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), told Al Jazeera the green card system gives more rights to expatriates to invest in the country.
Saudi Arabia will also sell shares in state oil giant Aramco and set up the world's largest wealth fund in line with the plan, Mohamed bin Salman said separately in an interview with the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news channel.
"We plan to sell less than 5 percent of Aramco. Aramco's size is very big. It is estimated at between $2 trillion and $2.5 trillion," he said.
"We plan to set up a $2 trillion sovereign wealth fund ... part of its assets will come from the sale of a small part of Aramco."
Saudi Arabia's economy has suffered over the past 12 months in line with the falling price of oil, with a $98bn budget deficit last year and an estimated deficit of $87bn this year. Its reserves decreased from $746bn in 2014 to $616bn today.

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