Passengers at a railway station in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Agence France-Presse
LONDON/RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has completed six public-private partnership deals in the past two months worth around $3.5 billion, and plans at least 23 more by 2022 despite some delays in its plan to engage the private sector, the head of its privatisation body said.
“It’s better for the process to take a little bit longer to ensure it is done properly,” said Turki Al-Hokail, CEO of the National Centre for Privatisation and Public-Private Partnership (NCP), which is overseeing the process, told Reuters after a visit to London to meet prospective investors.
“We are gearing up for a lot of transactions either in the process or in the pipeline and we want to make sure the process is done correctly,” he said. “The privatisation programme has so far awarded six projects in two months and is committed to its timetable and initiatives as per the delivery plan.”
The six projects just completed include four water projects, one in healthcare and one in transport. Under such public-private partnership arrangements, private investors build infrastructure and are paid to operate it for a period before it reverts to the state.
Twenty-three more such deals are planned for the water sector by 2022, among more than 40 public-private partnership deals and privatisations that are in the pipeline.
He did not identify the foreign or domestic investors in the deals or provide a breakdown of their stakes. Companies from France, Spain, China, Japan, the United States, Scandinavia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates were among those involved.
Riyadh previously set a goal of aiming to generate 35 billion to 40 billion riyals ($9.3 billion to $10.0 billion) of non-oil state revenues from its privatisation programme by 2020. Some of that money would come from asset sales, while the rest would come from public-private partnerships.