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Saudi reveals new measures to support the private sector due to Covid-19 impact

Saudi reveals new measures to support the private sector due to Covid-19 impact

The kingdom has allocated an amount of SAR50bn to expedite the payment of dues to the private sector

Saudi Arabia has approved a package of additional initiatives to support the private sector as part of measures to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new measures include support packages, exemptions and expediting the payment of dues to the private sector, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The package targets small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and economic activities most affected by the pandemic.

Minister of Finance and acting minister of Economy and Planning Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan said that the initiatives are an extension of previously measure to support the private sector.

The government had already announced SAR70bn of support for the private sector, he said.

Read: Covid-19: Saudi says measures taken will save companies $32bn

Some of the new initiatives include –

* Allocating an amount of SAR50bn to expedite the payment of dues to the private sector

* Providing a 30 per cent discount of the value of the electricity bill for consumers in commercial, industrial and agricultural sectors for a period of two months (April – May), with the possibility of extension.

* Allowing subscribers in the industrial and commercial sector to pay 50 per cent of the value of their monthly electricity bills for April, May, and June, provided that the remaining dues are paid in divided installments over a period of six months starting from January 2021 with the possibility of postponing the payment period if needed.

* Pay the minimum salaries to individuals who are working in passenger transport – who are not under the umbrella of any company but registered with Public Transport Authority – whose activities were stopped due to the Covid-19 precautionary measures.

* The rapid activation of the Cabinet decision which requires that companies in which the government owns more than 51 per cent of the capital give preference to the local market and SMEs. The move is aimed at increasing the economic movement in the local market and directing demand towards local products and services.

Also read: Saudi tells banks to support businesses to avoid job cuts

Al-Jadaan also stressed that additional funds were allocated to the health sector as needed, with financial support having reached SAR47bn so far. Funding is being used to raise the health sector’s readiness, secure medicines, operate additional beds, and provide necessary medical supplies such as artificial respirators and supplies of laboratory tests, as well as to secure the necessary medical and technical personnel, he said.

Read: Saudi Arabia banks defer repayment of loans for healthcare workers

He also emphasised that the government has taken a number of additional measures to provide cash to the private sector that can be used to manage its economic activities and is constantly studying the repercussions of the coronavirus crisis in a number of sectors to address them.

The kingdom has imposed a curfew in several regions including Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam to curb the spread of the virus.

The Ministry of Health reported 493 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, April 15, its highest daily rise in infections since the outbreak, with the total tally reaching 5,862.

The ministry also announced six additional deaths, raising the total number of Covid-19 related deaths to 79.

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