Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH – The Shoura Council decided to constitute a special committee to carry out studies on the proposal to amend certain articles of the Foreign Investment Law in order to make Saudi Arabia more investment-friendly by introducing more incentives and removing some hurdles and negativities.
Fahaad Al-Hamad, Assistant President of the Council, said the Council took the decision after reviewing an earlier study in this regard and taking into consideration of the viewpoints of several members who have noted that the current foreign investments are neither contributing to the Kingdom’s sustained development nor diversifying the sources of national revenues. The members also pointed out that the law was not instrumental in giving jobs for more Saudis and realizing a major objective of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) – nationalizing technology.
Al-Hamad said the Council session, chaired by President Sheikh Abdullah Al-Asheikh, rejected the report of the Committee for Economic and Energy Affairs, read out by the Committee President Osama Qabbani, with regard to amendment of the articles. Al-Hamad noted that the proposals to change the law were presented earlier by Abdullah Bukhari, Mohammed Al-Quwaihes and Salem Almarry, who were former members of the Council. These members pointed out that their proposals would help woo more foreign investments, in addition to removing some negative aspects, and protecting both the employer and the employees. But the committee recommended the Council to reject the proposals.
Al-Hamad said the majority of members were not in favor of approving the recommendation of the committee to reject the proposals of the former members. On the other hand, they demanded formation of a special committee to re-study the matter. Criticizing the committee’s report, one member noted that the committee did not deal with the technical aspect of the issue. “The committee also failed in entertaining officials of SAGIA and representatives of chambers to collect their opinions on the issue,” he added.
According to Al-Hamad, the committee, in its report, recommended that these proposals should not be approved as they required more reviews, changes and studies. The committee proposed that the involvement of all the concerned parties shall be ensured while carrying out a comprehensive study about this. It also drew attention to a decision taken by the Council three years ago in which it directed SAGIA to carry out a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the Foreign Investment Law and propose changes in the law so as to raise the volume of investments and improve further the investment environment.
While noting that the proposals of the former members were dealing only with a part of the law and also defective, the committee stressed the need for carrying out a comprehensive study encompassing all the aspects and issues facing foreign investment sector in the Kingdom.