Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 October 2019

Draft private sector law will drive investment in Saudi projects

Private Sector Participation law will regulate kingdom's privatisation and PPP programmes

Saudi Arabia's start-up ecosystem is among the fastest growing in Mena region. Bloomberg
Saudi Arabia's start-up ecosystem is among the fastest growing in Mena region. Bloomberg

A new draft private sector law proposed to make investment in Saudi Arabia more attractive will exempt those looking to get involved in infrastructure and real estate projects from some of the kingdom's existing rules, according to Moody's Investors Service.

The new Private Sector Participation law "will exempt infrastructure investors from certain existing Saudi laws and ease real estate ownership restrictions", Moody's said in a report issued on Tuesday. It also argued the new law would improve credit quality by making public sector actions and legal processes more transparent.

"While the new laws will boost investment in established sectors like power and water, they will be especially beneficial for transactions in new sectors such as social infrastructure because they will reduce uncertainty for creditors," said Kunal Govindia, an analyst at Moody's.

Saudi Arabia has some ambitious targets for boosting infrastructure and real estate investment under Vision 2030 — its plan to increase non-oil government revenue to one trillion riyals (Dh979bn) by 2030.

This includes adding 59GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030, compared to the 75GW of conventional power capacity in the kingdom currently, according to Moody's. It also said the kingdom's first social infrastructure public-private partnership (PPP) programmes are being tendered for projects in the healthcare and education sectors, although the report said investment proposals for the airport sector are currently on hold, despite one PPP project having already been completed at Madinah airport in 2012.

A draft of the new law was issued in July last year for consultation. It is set to regulate the kingdom's privatisation programme and its PPP programme. The draft law states that foreign entities should be treated equally to Saudi companies and sets out certain freedoms regarding international remittances from projects. It also allows for contracts to be written in laws other than Arabic, and provides exemptions from certain aspects of both competition and procurement laws.

Some restrictions over real estate have also been lifted. Under the law, foreign investors can lease real estate within the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah for PPP projects. They will also be able to own real estate in other cities.

Updated: September 17, 2019 05:23 PM

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