A “Green Card” for foreign investors is under study. Fahad al-Skeit, head of the Local Content and Private Sector Development Unit at the Council of Economic Affairs and Development, said that if approved, it will be announced, al-Hayat Arabic Daily reported on Thursday.
He did not elaborate, but his point corroborated an earlier report in al-Watan newspaper, in which Fahad bin Juma, vice chairman of the Shoura Council Financial Committee, had said eligibility for the Saudi “Green Card” will be determined by a number of entities topped by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment.
He said in order to meet the eligibility criteria, applicants must possess scientific skills or professional qualities that are not abundantly available in the Kingdom, or they should be company owners who can invest in the country.
He said the availability of the card would be limited due to such criteria, and also because foreigners are able to obtain a Saudi investment license.
Al-Skeit also said that there is a mega privatization plan on the cards so as to contribute to achieving Vision 2030, which largely relies on the private sector. He drew attention to the fact that supporting foreign investment would provide job opportunities for Saudi young men and women. It would also contribute to the growth of the Saudi economy and speed up knowledge transfer. He added that the foreign investor is considered to be a key factor in knowledge transfer.
Al-Skeit said: “It was announced earlier that SR200 billion would be injected so as to stimulate the private sector during a four-year period. We are talking about the launching of an integrated plan to stimulate the private sector. In this connection, 17 initiatives will be launched. The SR72 billion infusion is part of the SR200 billion. This is a huge investment by the state in the private sector due its confidence in the sector being the engine for development in the Kingdom.”
He added: “Among the fields we have focused on in the first plan is to upgrade efficiency and technology. There are important investments initially in order to raise the level of efficiency and technology in the private sector, in fields like telecommunications and energy efficiency. What is more important is to enhance the participation of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as we have studied in several workshops the obstacles facing SMEs.”
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.