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Saudi govt approves 92 bln riyals support for agriculture, water, environment

Saudi govt approves 92 bln riyals support for agriculture, water, environment

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has approved financial support for the environment, water and agriculture sectors worth 92 billion riyals ($24.5 billion) to help them meet their goals under the government’s 2030 economic plan, the minister handling the sectors said on Sunday. Abdulrahman al-Fadhli, minister for environment, water and agriculture said in a speech at an industry conference his ministry had received “support” from the government to achieve 16 strategic goals which are in line with the economic transformation programme Vision 2030. Fadhli did not give further details on the 16 goals. Vision 2030 aims to diversify the economy by reducing dependence on oil revenues. At the event, the government-owned Saudi Saline Water Conversion Corp (SWCC) signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures to develop new technologies in water and power.

SWCC also signed another memorandum of understanding with Hydrochem Saudi Arabia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore’sHyflux Group for water desalination projects in the kingdom. One of the programmes of the Vision 2030, the National Transformation Plan listed spending worth 13.94 billion riyals to the Ministry of Agriculture and another 12.92 billion to the Ministry of Water and Electricity. As part of the reform drive, Saudi Arabia aims to reduce electricity and water subsidies by 200 billion riyals ($53 billion) and reduce non-oil subsidies by 20 percent by 2020.

Vision 2030 also aims to boost the private sector participation in water and electricity sectors. Saudi Arabia started restructuring its energy and water sectors to support sweeping economic reform plans to wean the world’s largest crude exporter off its dependence on oil. Last year, through royal decrees, the Water and Electricity Ministry was split into two ministries. The Energy ministry is in charge of electricity as well industry and mineral resources while the water portfolio was incorporated into a new Environment, Water and Agriculture Ministry.