Saudis hail Deputy Crown Prince's planned economic reforms

Saudis hail Deputy Crown Prince's planned economic reforms
Saudis have praised Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for holding an unprecedented workshop with leading figures in the kingdom to discuss reforms to save the economy.
2 min read
21 December, 2015
File Photo: Mohammad bin Salman (L) is the world's youngest minister of defence [Getty]
Saudis have hailed the country's Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, for his recent efforts to push for economic reforms to withstand low oil prices, in what could be the biggest policy shift since the economy was last hurt by cheap oil over a decade ago.

Mohammad bin Salman held a workshop on a national transformation programme last week to consult with leading Saudis on economic issues and privately outline plans to reshape the kingdom's economy.

Participants of the workshop included a number of officials, economists, businessmen poets and clergy who convened to discuss social development, strengthening the private sector and government performance.

Attendees of the workshop have said the deputy crown prince's plan will include state spending reforms and privatisations, which are expected to be made public in the next few weeks and probably in January.

Saudis took to social media to commend Mohammad bin Salman's initiative using the Arabic-language hashtag #NationalTransformationProgramme (translated).

"I had the honour today to attend the national transformation workshop and take part in the housing and land allocation committees. I saw the Saudi dream forming, may God make it reality," tweeted economist Abd al-Hamid al-Amri.

Dean of Taibah University Adnan al-Mazrooa said: "I liked how his highness the Deputy Crown Prince concluded his speech by telling participants of the workshop 'We need your criticism before your praise'".

Businesses student Meshal bin Saeed posted a picture of the Deputy Crown Prince on Twitter with the caption: "When you see someone who thinks about the future, wants change and is progressing the country with a vison and through work; you know he is a leader."

Head of the World Union of Quran Reciters, Nasir al-Qatami, tweeted: "I had the pleasure to take part in the Council for Economic and Development Affairs' workshop, which was held by the Deputy Crown Prince, and discuss the state's plan for the next five years".

Mohammad bin Salman is the head of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs as well as second deputy premier and defence minister.

Many of the reforms discussed at the workshop have been talked about for years but have been blocked by political opposition, bureaucratic inertia and technical challenges.

The Saudi government has been running an annual budget deficit of over $100 billion, forcing it to liquidate over $90 billion of foreign assets in the past 12 months to pay its bills - a pattern that is not sustainable for more than a few years, the International Monetary Fund has warned.