Saudi builder Khodari says projects worth $96.6m delayed

The projects have been delayed due to factors ranging from the slow issuance of visas to clients facing funding shortages

Saudi Arabian construction firm Abdullah Abdul Mohsin al-Khodari and Sons said on Tuesday that projects worth SAR362.2m ($96.6m) had been delayed due to factors ranging from the slow issuance of visas to clients facing funding shortages.

It said its total project backlog stood at SAR3.01bn while its total contract value was SAR7.78bn as of September 30.

Saudi Arabia’s government has made payments of SAR40bn ($10.7bn) that it owed to private sector companies, the kingdom’s Arab News newspaper quoted a senior construction industry executive as saying on Sunday.

With its oil revenues slashed by low crude prices, the government of the world’s largest oil exporter has cut spending sharply this year and reduced or suspended payments owed to construction firms, medical establishments and even some of the foreign consultants who helped to design its economic reforms.

The payment delays have tightened liquidity in the banking system and caused severe financial problems for some companies, particularly those in the construction industry. In recent weeks, top officials have indicated that all or most of the delayed payments would soon be made.

Construction firms have received SAR40bn in the past two weeks, representing 25 per cent of money owed to them by various government agencies, Fahad al-Hammadi, chief of the National Contractors’ Committee at the Council of Saudi Chambers, a business association, was quoted as saying by Arab News on Sunday.

“The Saudi government is expected to pay up to 80 per cent of the total dues to contractors during the remaining few weeks of this year by disbursing another SAR100bn,” he told the newspaper.

“More then 80 per cent of the back-logged payments will be released within the next few days or weeks.”

Fawwaz al-Khodari, chief executive of Abdullah Abdul Mohsin al-Khodari and Sons, told Al Arabiya television on Sunday that 10 to 15 per cent of the SAR500m it was owed by the government had been paid.

He told Al Arabiya he was optimistic the company would receive 40 to 45 per cent of the total outstanding dues by the end of the year in the best case scenario.

The government set aside SAR100bn to pay debts that it owed to private sector companies after the payment delays, which lasted months, Reuters reported on Nov. 11, citing an official document.

Authorities have not disclosed the total size of the unpaid bills. Most construction projects suspended as a result of low oil prices will eventually be revived and implemented in order of priority, Hammadi also told the newspaper.