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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Saudi Arabia’s reforms pay off as it emerges as best reformer in GCC

The kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 is bearing fruit

Investor residency programmes may assist countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE in building up their knowledge economies. Faisal Al Nasser / Reuters
Investor residency programmes may assist countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE in building up their knowledge economies. Faisal Al Nasser / Reuters

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, has emerged as the top ­reformer in the Arabian Gulf region, according to the World Bank’s latest Ease of Doing business report.

The kingdom headed the bank’s regional table by ­carrying out six measures, while the UAE came second with four reforms and rose up the ranks to 21st spot in this year’s Ease of Doing Business ranking from 26th in the previous year out of a total 190 countries.

Such a performance from Saudi Arabia is com­mendable – given the dif­ficult transition the kingdom is undergoing to reduce its ­reliance on ­hydrocarbons as the main source of income.

As the country embarks on implementing Vision 2030 – the economic programme aimed at curbing dependence on income from oil and gas – it will need more such performances to cement the success of its policies.

The reforms that earned the top Arab economy its ranking include improving the efficiency of the land administration system to streamline the property registration process. Now it takes only one-and-a- half days to transfer property in the kingdom, compared with an average of 22 days in OECD high-income economies.

The kingdom also bolstered minority investors’ protection by increasing shareholder rights, among other measures, helping it to rise in this category to No 10 globally.

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Read more:

Saudi Arabia top reformer in the GCC last year, World Bank says

World Bank lowers growth forecast for Arabian Gulf on oil cut adherence

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Such reforms are good news to investors keen to enter Saudi Arabia and its equity market as the country continues to ease ­re­strictions on foreign money.

As the kingdom prepares to list a 5 per cent stake in Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, any reforms in connection

with the rights of investors will be music to their ears.

Saudi Arabia also made it easier to pay taxes by ­improving its online platform for filing and paying levies, another measure that is vital as the kingdom prepares to introduce a 5 per cent value-added tax on January 1.

The kingdom also improved trading across borders by reducing the time for documentary compliance for exports and imports and it also made enforcement of contracts easier by intro­ducing an electronic case-management system for the use of judges and lawyers.

Saudi Arabia has also advanced two notches to rank globally at No 92 out of 190 countries in this year’s ease of doing business ranking, partly thanks to the recent reforms.

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