21 January, 2016

UPDATE 1-Saudi to consider reforms to social insurance fund

Saudi Arabia's Shura Council is considering proposals to revise the investment strategy of kingdom's social insurance fund in order to raise returns, advisory body said .

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RIYADH, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Shura Council is considering proposals to revise the investment strategy of the kingdom's social insurance fund in order to raise returns, the government advisory body said in statement posted on state news agency SPA on Thursday.

The Shura Council's finance committee also recommended the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) consider tying retirement benefits to the inflation rate and diversifying its real estate portfolio beyond the capital Riyadh, SPA said.

Saddled with a huge budget deficit due to low oil prices, the government of the world's top oil exporting country is looking at a wide range of reforms to save money, increase the efficiency of state spending and increase revenues.

GOSI is one of the world's largest public pension funds, with some $448 billion in assets, according to a survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2013.

Among the benefits offered to its roughly 9.5 million subscribers are medical insurance, old-age pensions and disability and survivor grants.

(Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Andrew Torchia) ((davidj.french@thomsonreuters.com; +971 4 362 5864; Reuters Messaging: davidj.french.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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