16 May 2017
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 2017: SEDCO Capital Chief Executive Officer Hasan Al Jabri participated in a panel discussion that brought together CEO's of leading financial institutions during the 12th Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference. Opened by Minister of Finance H.E. Mohammed Al-Jadaan, the conference discussed the financial challenges and opportunities of Vision 2030 projects.
The participants reviewed the developmental dimensions and strategic goals of Vision 2030, which continues to attract international political, economic, and media attention. The discussions focus on the National Transformation Programme 2020, which emanates from Vision 2030, explaining the opportunities created by the programme's initiatives and projects and the financial challenges that need to be overcome.
Al Jabri discussed the main challenges that the financial institutions faced in 2016, noting how the government planned and implemented several solutions to reduce reliance on hydrocarbons. He said the government succeeded in its international borrowing policy and in attracting Foreign Direct Investments.
"The government also addressed the housing challenge and the hike in land prices by a set of solutions, including the imposition of a white land tax that helped reduce prices to reasonable levels without creating big burdens to their owners," he said. "The tax decision also encouraged landowners to use their lands instead of keeping them undeveloped."
On the role of real estate investment funds, Al Jabri pointed out that these funds provided small investors with the opportunity to invest in safe class assets and created profitable investment channels for developers.
Another challenge the financial institutions faced in 2016 was the provision of bank loans for SME's. "This challenge was addressed through the creation of the parallel market Nomu, which is an alternative trading platform available for direct investors," Al Jabri remarked. "Retail investors could also access this market through specific investment funds, which helps create various options and varieties, and also through the Commerce Ministry's Private Sector Support Fund."
Al Jabri said plans to increase the number of pilgrims from 8 to 30 million will greatly boost the economy and the real estate and service sectors and provide job opportunities for Saudis. "This would generate huge business for private equity and investors and wonderful opportunities for SME's. Add to this the many opportunities that the plans of the General Authority for Entertainment will create."
The SEDCO CEO argued that the healthcare sector would play a greater role in terms of performance and output if privatized. He noted that the government has already started rearranging the health sector and opening the door for private investments in it, which would turn the State more into a regulator than operator. He expected this vital sector to be the more appropriate industry for the growth of investments and the creation of jobs.
Al Jabri said SEDCO Capital is aligning its business strategy with Saudi Vision 2030, exploring the opportunities that the various initiatives of the Vision create.
Asked if young Saudis are willing to work in the private sector, Al Jabri said the Saudis are genuinely and sincerely willing to work in the private sector. He gave, as an example, the Saudization in the banking sector, which started in 1994. "Everyone was proud of the Saudi youths who passed advanced training programmes that must serve as a model for all sectors."