A member of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council has reportedly criticised government departments for spending more than SAR12bn ($3.19bn) on foreign consultancy contracts in recent years.
Hani Khashogji questioned the value of the services provided by consultancies to the kingdom, according to Saudi Gazette.
He estimated more than SAR12bn had been spent on foreign consultancy contracts “over the past few years”, citing General Auditing Bureau statistics.
“What is the thing that the foreign consultant is able to give which the local consultant is unable to do?” he was quoted as saying.
The Shoura members comments come as the kingdom increases its reliance on foreign consultants to help formulate diversification plans and privatise some state institutions.
Khashogji argued Saudi consultancy offices, universities and research centres were more worthy of the billions of riyals of contracts and would likely accept cheaper fees.
“I have no doubt that our national consultancy offices and centres will accept one tenth of the money offered to the foreign consultancy firms,” he said.
The Shoura member also suggested that foreign consultants were merely building up reports and studies based on data provided by government officials or national researchers and then reformatting it “in the form of a colourful report or a power point presentation which will dazzle the audience”.
He added that foreign expertise may be required in fields such as energy, water desalination, medicine but may not be necessary for political, economic and financial isuses.
“It is not simply acceptable that we will seek foreign consultancy to formulate a vision, mission or strategic objectives to us or show us how to control expenditure and how to privatise government institutions,” he said.