Mr. Tariq Al-Shohaib, Deputy Minister for Revenues took part in a panel discussion on "The Role of Financial Policies, Regulations and Programs in support of the Venture Capital Investments", which was held within the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Forum and Exhibition 2018, under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Saud Bin Nayef Bin Abdulaziz, Governor of the Eastern Region. The function which was organized by the Eastern Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Eastern Region under the slogan: "Bold Capital Portal for Empowerment", was held at the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce on November 22, 2018.
During the discussion session, Al-Shohaib stressed that the SMEs are among the most important components of the private sector, which contribute to the national economic activity. We count on them to effectively contribute to the GDP. This vital sector is one of the pillars of our national economy. It is a key partner in national development. The government, represented by the Ministry of Finance, supports and empower the private sector. Such empowerment is carried out through stimulus packages of up to SR 200 billion until 2020 under the umbrella of the Financial Balance Program, which is considered one of the most important programs for realizing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. It also carried out through the privatization program, which provides the private sector with the opportunity to own, or manage state-owned assets and to provide specific public services rather than providing such services by the Government. This is in addition to several programs and initiatives launched by the government to enhance the empowerment of the private sector in economic activity, such as the national industrial development program, logistics for industry development and local content in various sectors such as renewable energy, military industries, exports and mining. This includes improving the infrastructure, supporting exports and developing the necessary logistics services. The Kingdom will become a unique industrial and logistic platform amid the three continents, enabling the creation of promising jobs for citizens.
Al-Shohaib outlined that this support is not limited to the initiatives and programs, but extends to digital systems and services, such as the new government procurement and competition system. This system, which is subject to review and endorsement, gives priority to local content and small and medium enterprises by providing local content and SMEs a mandatory proportion of the total value of the contract. As well as the digital financial platform, Etimad, which offers a great opportunity for small and medium enterprises to participate in competition and procurement, increases transparency and consolidates procedures.
On the role played by the Ministry of Finance in the service of the Venture Capital investments and initiatives related to the funding programs, Al-Shohaib explained that the role of the Ministry is concentrated in empowering government agencies through support, whether through budgets issued by the ministry to government agencies, or allocation of funds for some projects, by empowering government agencies to implement its Saudi Vision 2030 initiatives and projects. This is besides supporting and empowering the private sector. He pointed out the local lending program, which seeks to support the objectives of development and the Kingdom Vision 2030. This is realized by providing the necessary funding to support the private sector and encouraging it to invest in service projects in the Kingdom's regions that need such services. He explained that since the start of this program, has financed more than 700 development projects with a total value exceeding SR 11 billion. He also mentioned the initiative of stimulating the financial sector to finance small and medium enterprises under the umbrella of the Financial Sector Development Program, which aims to stimulate the sector to finance small and medium enterprises and to remove obstacles to access finance, including legal and regulatory reforms. He indicated that the expected impact of this initiative is increasing the share of loans of small and medium enterprises from total bank loans.
The Deputy Minister for Revenues also spoke of the importance of upgrading the existing systems to better match the venture investment. He pointed out that this is related to supporting the digital transformation in all systems and processes, especially that digital transformation is one of the most important objectives of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 and continuous systems upgrading in line with the global standards. Systems upgrading strengthens the investment environment in the Kingdom, whether for domestic or foreign investment, allowing small and medium-sized enterprises and the private sector in general more opportunities and business.
It is worth mentioning that the Small and Medium Enterprises Forum and Exhibition 2018 attracts specialists, economists, investors and interested in this field. The forum will discuss the role of these institutions in realizing the Kingdom vision 2030, and the efforts of the private sector and investment funds in increasing the sources of investment and finance. The forum is also an opportunity for those working in the small and medium-sized enterprises sector to learn about the venture capital funding of investor and to learn about leading global experiences in this field. The forum aims at introducing the best economic sectors that companies may invest in this sector. The forum will also examine a number of working papers within the small and medium-sized enterprises sector.