Saudi Economic Reforms Must Focus On Efficiency – Minister

Economy and Planning Minister Muhammad al-Jasser said economic reforms would continue under Saudi’s new king, Salman.

The next big economic reform drive in Saudi Arabia needs to focus on seeking efficiencies, Economy and Planning Minister Muhammad al-Jasser said on Monday.

“The need to focus on efficiency has become imperative,” Jasser said at a conference held by the Kingdom’s investment promotion agency.

He did not say what specific reforms were in store; the government has proceeded carefully with changes because of political sensitivities.

But Jasser said one possible example was better traffic management, which could save huge amounts of money – and lives – without the need for more resources. The same is true for many issues around the country, he added.

Jasser indicated economic reforms would continue under Saudi Arabia’s new king, Salman, who assumed the throne on Friday after his brother Abdullah died.

”Policies and reforms undertaken by the late King Abdullah will continue unabated under the new king Salman,” he said. He added, “Our kings and their economic advisers take a…long-term view.”

Discussing Saudi Arabia’s economic weaknesses, Jasser said 75 per cent of all working Saudis were working for the government – a situation which he described as “abnormal” and a legacy of the 1973 oil boom.

But the situation is changing now, he said: “If you talk to young people now, most of them want to be entrepreneurs.”