JEDDAH, April 28 (INP): Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 will achieve many of its goals before 2030.
In an interview with local Saudi television, the Crown Prince reviewed Vision 2030 which aims to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy away from oil dependence.
Speaking in the Al-Mudaifer Show to mark the fifth anniversary of the reform program, the Crown Prince completely ruled out any plans to impose income taxes in the Kingdom.
“There will be no income taxes at all in Saudi Arabia,” affirming that the maximum limit for value-added tax (VAT) is 15 percent for a period of 5 years, which is a temporary decision.
Prince Muhammed Bin Salman revealed that shares of Aramco will be sold to foreign investors during the next year or two, explaining that Aramco has an opportunity to be one of the largest industrial companies in the world, and the discussion is currently underway to sell 1 percent of Aramco to a foreign investor.
The Crown Prince said that oil served Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom existed before the discovery of oil, which still constitutes an essential part of income, however, the Vision 2030 was launched in order to achieve ambitions for a stronger economy and a better life for Saudis by strengthening the economy with funds and investments.
In addition to boosting the private sector to be the main facilitator in achieving the goals of the vision, he revealed discussions with 30 Saudi companies within the “Shareek” program.
He emphasized that my interest lies in achieving the growth of the Saudi nation and the satisfaction of citizens in line with Vision 2030.
The Crown Prince pointed out that the Public Investment Fund (the sovereign fund) aims to grow into a huge fund, and therefore its profits will not be transferred to the state budget. It will aim to increase the growth of the fund’s size by more than 200 percent in the next five years.
The PIF is the Kingdom’s new “oil barrel”, and the target of the fund is to keep growing, the Crown Prince said.
He explained that the establishment of the investment fund for the “Roshen” company, which aims to raise the level of real estate development in the Kingdom and it will provide one million housing units.
The Saudi Crown Prince explained details related to the vision launched by the Kingdom in 2016, including developing housing policies, developing legislation, and ensuring an increase in the private sector’s contribution to the Kingdom’s economy, reviewing influential economic figures, most notably the rise in the Saudi Stock Market Index (Tadawul).
The Crown Prince confirmed that unemployment before the vision was 14 percent and there are plans to reduce it to 11 percent this year. The rate will continue to reduce to stabilize at the natural rate between 7 percent to 4 percent; he said explaining that the tourism sector targets include 3 million new jobs until 2030.
With regard to the level of education in the Kingdom, the Crown Prince considered that education in Saudi Arabia today is not bad and “the vision aims to have 3 universities out of the 200 most important universities in the world,” indicating that educational resources have become open and the focus will be on skills development plans.
Regarding health, Prince Muhammed Bin Salman said that the transformation program in the health sector will make a major change in the level of services.
Speaking about Riyadh, he said the city was well planned by King Salman, and it is one of the best cities with infrastructure, compared to global cities with a population of more than 5 million, stressing that the focus will not be on Riyadh alone but on the various cities across the Kingdom.
Regarding the Green Saudi Initiative and the Green Middle East, the Crown Prince said that vegetation cover in Saudi Arabia has increased by 40 percent over the past four years, explaining that concern for the environment has a direct impact on tourism and attracting capital.
Outlining the contours of the Kingdom’s foreign policy, the Crown Prince said: “Our foreign policy interest is that of Saudi Arabia’s interests.”
He categorically said that Saudi Arabia won’t tolerate any outside pressure on its internal affairs.
He added that the Kingdom is not afraid of anything, and fear is not in its dictionary.
The Crown Prince said that Saudi Arabia wants good relations with Iran, and the Kingdom’s problem with Iran is its behavior, its nuclear program and ballistic missiles, adding: “We hope we will overcome the problems and enjoy good relations.”
With regard to the Yemeni conflict, the Crown Prince said he aims to find a political solution to it, stressing that the Kingdom would mind the presence of the Houthi militia at the negotiating table.
“Undoubtedly, the Houthis have a close relationship with the Iranian regime but at the end of the day, they are Arabs and it is inevitable that they will need to work with their brothers to end this conflict,” the Crown Prince said.