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Facing criticism, Saudi Arabia to pay private sector bills on time: Finance minister

Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan has pledged that all private sector payments will be made within a 60-day time frame, as the country seeks greater investment as part of its "Vision 2030" strategy.

Al-Jadaan hopes that the new commitment will reassure private sector investors that Saudi Arabia will make good on its liabilities after facing criticism in the past over delayed payments.

"Payments are happening on time," Al-Jadaan told CNBC at the World Economic Forum, adding "we actually announced, in writing, a commitment from the government that will pay every single use of the private sector within 60 days and that is happening without a single default on that position."


"There have been some delays in the past because I think that governments in 2015 wanted to make sure that they look at their liabilities generally. That took a bit longer than what is expected. We are now on track," he said.

Vision 2030 is a "strategic roadmap" setting out how the country intends to diversify its economy over the next 13 years.

By 2030 it hopes to no longer be so heavily dependent on oil exports to fuel its economy, particularly given its susceptibility to price fluctuations. Instead, it is hoping for the private sector to contribute 65 percent to the country's overall GDP.

In particular, Saudi Arabia aims to transform its public investment fund into a sovereign wealth fund that would be "the first and the largest in the world, or at least one of the three largest in the world," said Al-Jadaan.

He aimed to reassure international investors that the 2017 budget, announced in December 2016, sets out a gradual transition for the country.

"We know that you want certainty. We know that you want predictability. We are a predictable government. We are going to provide you with transparent plans on where we are going in the next four, five years."

This year's World Economic Forum has seen the largest Saudi delegation in history, with several government ministers in attendance.


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