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Saudi issues draft law for public-private projects worth billions

Economic News

Saudi issues draft law for public-private projects worth billions

Saudi Arabia has published a draft law covering partnerships between the government and private sector in a step toward launching billions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects and attracting fresh foreign investment.

The draft, revealed late on Sunday, offers investors exemptions from labor laws, real state ownership restrictions and other regulations.

The government’s National Centre for Privatisation and Public-Private Partnerships said it would accept public comment on the draft for three weeks, before promulgation of the law on an unspecified future date.

Riyadh announced in April that it aimed to generate 35 billion to 40 billion riyals ($9 billion to $11 billion) of non-oil state revenues from its privatization program by 2020.

Some of that money would come from asset sales, while the rest would come from public-private partnerships (PPPs) – deals in which private companies invest in infrastructure and are paid to operate it for a period, before eventually transferring it to the state.

Authorities have been talking about PPPs for two years as a key way to diversify the economy beyond oil exports. But so far, there has been little actual progress because of the lack of a legal framework covering such projects.

Riyadh hopes to use PPPs to jump-start investment in school facilities, water desalination plants, transport infrastructure and other projects.



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