By Bernd Debusmann Jr
A variety of steps have been taken to help companies in the commercial, industrial and agricultural sectors
Saudi Arabia has allocated SAR 50 billion ($13.3 billion) to bolster the private sector amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has announced.
The package – which was approved by King Salman on Wednesday – is targeted at SMEs and other parts of the economies that have felt the brunt of the coronavirus crisis.
As part of the measures, companies with capital that is more than 51 percent owned by the state must give preferences to the local market and direct business towards SMEs.
Additionally, subscribers in the industrial and commercial sectors have the option of paying 50 percent of their monthly electricity bills for April, May and June, as long as the remaining balance be divided over the course of six months beginning in January 2021.
Meanwhile, electricity consumers in the agricultural and commercial sectors will receive a 30 percent discount in April and May.
The Saudi government has also announced that it will pay the minimum salaries of independent workers in the transport sector, provided they are registered with the Public Transport Authority but do not fall under the umbrella of any company.
The kingdom’s minister of finance and acting minister of economy and planning, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan, said that the measures are an extension of those previously announced to support private sector enterprises.
Collectively, the previous measures exceeded SAR 70 billion ($18.6 billion).
There have been more than 5,800 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Saudi Arabia, including 79 deaths and over 930 recoveries.