23 August 2017
DAMMAM — The privatization of ministries, which come under 10 targeted sectors, does not mean transferring their ownership to the private sector, said Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid, chairman of the Economic and Energy Committee at the Shoura Council.

“Privatization of these ministries and sectors means developing them and improving their services,” he said while speaking to Makkah Arabic daily. “Government agencies will continue to manage and supervise these sectors to ensure the quality of services,” he added.

He said the government would also participate in these privatized sectors as an investor through its sovereign funds. However, he pointed out that ownership of some assets would be transferred to the private sector.

“Obviously investments will be channeled first to successful sectors,” said Al-Rashid who identified transport, aviation and airport sectors as well as industry, energy and mineral resources as the most important sectors targeted for privatization.

“The new privatization law allows the government to participate in the ownership of some assets like other investors through its financial institutions. It has actually started purchasing shares of institutions that have been targeted for privatization,” the chairman said.

Atallah Al-Maimouni, a member of the health committee at Asharqia Chamber, said the health sector was looking forward to privatization of public hospitals and clinics. “We have heard that a holding company will be established to supervise privatization of the health sector and we are awaiting its details,” he said, adding that the move would improve health services.

Haithem Bouayisha, former chairman of the communications and information technology committee, called upon the government to sell part of its shares in the Saudi Telecom Company for the benefit of Saudi investors as well as to privatize Saudi Post in order to improve services.

However, Bouayisha stressed the need for government holding the majority shares in the education, health and Haj sectors considering their strategic importance.

Shinan Al-Zahrani, deputy chairman of the trade committee at Asharqia Chamber urged authorities to speed up the privatization process to save time and woo investors.

The National Council for Privatization will bear the cost of the process, including consultancy services and this has been published in Um Al-Qura official gazette.

The council’s board of directors will issue regulations of supervising committees and working teams for executive programs as well as for negotiations and reaching agreements, the regulations for signing accords, the criteria for selecting consultancy firms. It will set out principles for contacting the private sector, and for conducting negotiations with potential investors.

© The Saudi Gazette 2017