Saudi economy minister: Five sectors prepared for privatization in Q1 2019

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Saudi Arabia’s economy minister said on Wednesday five sectors are prepared for privatization in the first quarter of 2019.

The comments by Mohammed al-Tuwaijri came at a post-budget news conference, a day after the government announced a $295 billion budget, the kingdom's biggest ever.

Saudi officials include public-private partnerships to build and operate infrastructure as well as asset sales in their definition of privatization.

Unemployment rate

Mohammed al-Tuwaijri also said Saudi Arabia expects its unemployment rate to decline starting in 2019 from the current level of 12.9 percent, its economy and planning minister said on Wednesday.

“The number is 12.9... we expect it start to decline starting 2019,” he told a post-budget press conference. He added that Saudi nationals participation in the labor market currently is 42 percent.

FDI in Saudi Arabia

Foreign investment in Saudi Arabia more than doubled in 2018 to 13 billion riyals ($3.5 billion), its economy and planning minister said on Wednesday. Economy and planning minister Mohammed al-Tuwaijri said foreign investment in 2018 rose 110 percent from the previous year.

He was speaking at a news conference a day after Riyadh unveiled plans to increase state spending by 7 percent next year to bolster growth crimped by low oil prices. The government has made attracting greater foreign investment a cornerstone of its Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy of the world's top oil exporter away from a reliance on crude revenues.

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