Saudi Arabia is revising its major reform strategy just over a year after its launch, extending the timeline of some targets and removing others entirely, according to reports.
A government document seen by the Financial Times said that the country's amended National Transformation Plan, dubbed NTP 2.0, would "change existing initiatives and add new ones." Saudi Arabia's National Transformation Plan is a pivotal element of the country's "Vision 2030" reforms which were announced last year by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This redraft reportedly updates the plans which were originally set out to overhaul the economy and reduce what the deputy crown prince called Saudi Arabia's "dangerous addiction to oil."
The program had aimed to use a number of measures to wean the country off oil by 2020. These included privatizing state assets, creating 1.2 million private sector jobs and reducing unemployment from 11.6 percent to 9 percent.
Yet, according to insiders, the delays announced Thursday highlight the ambitious nature of the mammoth task. As the world's leading oil exporter, the oil and gas sector accounts for 85 percent of Saudi Arabia's export earnings and around 50 percent of its gross domestic product, according to OPEC.
"There is a recognition that too many of these targets were too aggressive and maybe having too much impact on the economy," a government adviser told the Financial Times.