More jobs are expected to open in Saudi Arabia, with the completion of a previously announced privatisation of the kingdom’s flour mills business, according to a statement. 

The state's grain buyer Saudi Grains Organisation (SAGO) said late Tuesday that it has completely divested its entire stake in the last two milling companies, which represent the final phase of the state assets’ sale. 

The kingdom’s Second Milling Company has been sold to a consortium of Abdulaziz AlAjlan Sons Co. for Commercial and Real Estate Investments, Sulaiman Abdulaziz AlRajhi International Co., NADEC and Olam International Limited, while the Fourth Milling Company has been awarded to a consortium of Allana International, Abdullah Al Othaim Markets and United Feed Manufacturing Company – all for a combined sum of more than ($773 million). 

Last July, two of the government’s milling firms were sold to investors that include companies based in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

“The sale of the [last two milling companies] to the private sector will be the catalyst for the growth of the sector with the aim to further strengthen the capabilities of the sector, enhance performance, support diversification of products while maintaining quality in a cost-effective manner,” a statement issued following the final sale said. 

“The privatization initiative will further improve the services provided to citizens and is aimed to increase employment opportunities for the national workforce through the contribution of the private sector investment in the national economy.” 

The sale of Saudi Arabia’s assets in the flour milling sector is in line with the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030, which seeks to increase the private sector’s contribution to the economy. 

Companies worldwide have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and forced to cut jobs to stay afloat. As a result, the unemployment rate among Saudi nationals grew to 15.4 percent during the last six months of 2020, about 3.1 percent higher than in the same period of the previous year, according to a Labour Force Survey. 

The total unemployment rate for both Saudis and non-Saudis also went up to 9 percent, about 3.4 percent higher than in the second quarter of 2019. 

“These results of the Labour Force Survey are largely impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Saudi economy,” said the General Authority for Statistics. 

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria) 

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