Saudi Cabinet okays SR1.44 trillion development

JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia on Monday approved a SR1.44 trillion development plan with a focus on improving the standard of living of its citizens. The budget earmarked for the Ninth Five-Year Development Plan (2010-14) is 67 per cent more than the previous one.

By Habib Shaikh

Published: Thu 12 Aug 2010, 1:12 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:47 AM

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, who presided over a Cabinet meeting, urged government departments to implement all projects earmarked in the plan within their specific periods, and give priority to those projects that are directly linked with improving the standard of living of citizens.

He said that under the new plan, the lion’s share of government spending (50.6 per cent) is set aside for the manpower development sector that covers education and training. Social development and health care will receive 19 per cent of the total allocations, economic resource development 15.7 per cent, transportation and telecommunications 7.7 per cent while municipal services and housing 7 per cent.

Economy and Planning Minister Khaled Al Gossaibi said the five-year plan was prepared in line with a long-term strategic vision aimed at achieving sustained development. Apart from fighting poverty, it focuses on providing housing, employment, education, health care and other services and facilities.

“Increasing economic growth, improving the living standards and quality of life of citizens, and achieving balanced development of the Kingdom’s regions are some of the plan’s main objectives,” he said, and added it will also help strengthen the Kingdom’s competitiveness and transform it into a knowledge-based economy. It has also given importance to youth issues.

He expected a 5.2 per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009. “We also expect that the per capita income would grow from SR46,200 in 2009 to SR53,200 by 2014,” he said. The private sector is expected to grow by 6.6 per cent annually while non-oil sectors by 6.3 per cent and investment by 10.4 per cent.

He said that the Saudi workforce would increase from 47.9 per cent in 2009 to 53.6 per cent in 2014, bringing down the unemployment rate from 9.6 per cent to 5.5 per cent.

The government will also establish 117 hospitals, including 32 specialist ones with 22,372 beds, 750 primary health care centres and 400 first-aid centres during the period. More primary, intermediate and secondary schools will be constructed to accommodate a total of 5.31 million students while the capacity of universities will be increased to 1.7 million. Twenty-five new colleges of technology, 28 higher technical institutes and 50 industrial training institutes will also be established.

Speaking about plans for the water and electricity sector, the minister said the actual capacity of desalination plants would be doubled from 1.05 billion to 2.07 billion cubic metres annually in 2014. A drinking water pipeline 15,000km long will be established and 600,000 housing units will be given water connections. Nearly 700,000 housing units will be given sewage pipeline connections and 1.3 million subscribers will be given electricity connections.

He said the plan envisages the construction of one million housing units by the public and private sectors to meet 80 per cent of the housing demand in various parts of the country. It will provide 266 million cubic metres of land for housing projects.

Al Gossaibi said the five-year plan has taken into consideration the speedy technological and economic developments in the world. “Efforts will be made to acquire modern technology and innovative systems to increase productivity at industrial and economic sectors,he added.

He emphasised the Kingdom’s plan to increase investment in infrastructure projects, maintenance, human resource development, natural resource development and environment protection projects and systems. “The Kingdom will continue its economic and administrative reforms during the plan,” he said.

The minister highlighted the Kingdom’s developmental achievements in the past years, adding that it would serve as a launching pad for the ninth plan. He said the government is pinning great hopes on the private sector towards realising the development plan by mobilising its financial and human resources.

More news from WORLD