Privatization of flour mills marks new era of food security in Saudi Arabia: minister

The sale of the flour milling companies will help enhance competition and improve operational efficiency in the sector: Al-Fadhli

  
Workers operate a machine at the Dangote flour mill in Apapa district in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos November 13, 2010. To match Insight NIGERIA-FOREX/DANGOTE REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye/File Photo Image used for illustrative purpose.

Workers operate a machine at the Dangote flour mill in Apapa district in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos November 13, 2010. To match Insight NIGERIA-FOREX/DANGOTE REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye/File Photo Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye/File Photo
 

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli said that the privatization of flour mills is a historic event, marking a new era of food security in the Kingdom.

He noted that the sale of the flour milling companies will help enhance competition and improve operational efficiency in the sector. It will also help to increase the diversity of high-quality flour products in the local market and improve service standards to customers.

Moreover, it will support the government's efforts to achieve food security and develop the local market. The privatization helps to realize the objectives of the Kingdom's Vision 2030, which seeks to raise the contribution of the private sector to the GDP, maximize the benefits derived from government assets, and attract local and international investments, Al-Fadhli added.

The minister made the remarks on Thursday during the signing of the final contract for the privatization of the first and third flour milling companies being carried out by the National Center for Privatization (NCP) and the Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO).

The privation bid involved a competitive tender process for the shares of two of the four milling companies to strategic investors.

The signing, which was held at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh, was also attended by the chairman of the board of directors of SAGO, the chairman of the privatization supervisory committee for the environment, water and agriculture sector, and a member of the board of directors of NCP.

Saudi Arabia is selling its entire flour milling business, marking one of the first sales of the country’s state-owned assets. The sales are part of broader plans to overhaul the economy.

The first part of the milling sector privatization was completed in July with the sale of two milling firms to Saudi and Gulf investors.

Meanwhile, the chairman of SAGO, Ahmad Al-Fares, pointed out that the grain authority will become the regulator of the milling sector and main supplier of wheat, barley and other grains to the privatized milling companies.

SAGO is adopting a flexible regulatory framework that seeks to align the requirements of the Kingdom's food security, product quality, consumer experience while achieving fair investment returns for the private sector. SAGO also seeks to develop, qualify and train employees in the sector, create incentive benefits and stimulate new job opportunities in flour milling companies for the national workforce.

The CEO of the NCP, Rayyan M. Nagadi, stated that the completion of the sale process marks a turning point for the flour milling sector in the Kingdom, as it is the first asset sale in one of the largest flour and animal feed markets in the MENA region.

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