Saudi Arabia has made unprecedented achivements in short time: Crown Prince

Saudi Arabia has been able to make unprecedented achievements in less than four years, said Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman on Thursday.He also said that the Kingdom will strike with an “iron fist” all those who threaten its security and stability.Vowing the Kingdom’s campaign to eradicate corruption, the crown prince said he views corruption as cancer and the first enemy of development and prosperity, revealing that the total proceeds of the anti-corruption settlements reached SR247 billion over the past three years.“Saudi Arabia is considered to be one of the 10 best countries in dealing with the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic in the G20 states,” the Saudi Press Agency reported quoting him as saying. The crown prince made the remarks while thanking Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for his address to the Shoura Council on Wednesday, outlining the major features of the Kingdom’s domestic and foreign policies.The Crown Prince said he was working hard on doubling the size of the Kingdom’s economy and diversifying its sources of income away from reliance on oil. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the largest and most important economies in the world, and we are striving hard to work to double the size and diversification of the economy. To pursue this, the government considers the non-oil GDP as the main indicator of the success of our economic plans,” he said.Regarding the ongoing campaign to eradicate corruption in the Kingdom, the crown prince said: “Corruption has spread in the Kingdom over the past decades like cancer, and has consumed 5 percent to 15 percent of the state budget. I consider this scourge as the first enemy of development and prosperity and the cause of the loss of many great opportunities in the Kingdom.The results of the anti-corruption campaign were clear to everyone, as the total proceeds of the anti-corruption settlements reached SR247 billion in the past three years, representing 20 percent of the total non-oil revenues in addition to other assets worth tens of billions that have been transferred to the Ministry of Finance, and will be recorded in revenues when they are liquidated, including real estate and stocks.The Crown Prince said the government’s next goal is to improve the citizen’s income. “These achievements would not have been possible without the faith and work of the Saudi citizen, who today has become a pioneer in initiatives, achievement, and work,” he said while thanking the mighty Saudi people for doing a wonderful job because of which the Kingdom was able to achieve a lot. He also thanked the public and private sectors for their concerted efforts and hard work to achieve the goals of Vision 2030.The Crown Prince noted that the government has strengthened the state’s non-oil revenues with a broad structuring of sectors. “We have succeeded in maintaining the salaries of citizens and bearing the high costs of healthcare due to coronavirus. We were able to double the size of the Public Investment Fund from SR560 billion to more than SR1.3 trillion and today we reached 60 percent of citizens owning a house, exceeding the target by 8 percent.”The Crown Prince said the Kingdom has set the unemployment issue as one of its priorities. “Work has begun according to Vision 2030 to reform the labor market and provide more jobs for male and female citizens. The Vision 2030 has set an unemployment rate of 7 percent in 2030 as one of its goals.”He noted that during the year 2018, the unemployment rate reached approximately 13 percent. “We have seen the unemployment rate drop successively to 11.8 percent at the beginning of 2020, thanks to the increase in the efficiency of government agencies, the investments of the Public Investment Fund and other government programs and initiatives.In the G20 countries affected by the pandemic, the unemployment rate has increased in some to 15 – 20 percent and more, and we believe that the programs and policies set by the government will enable us to achieve an unemployment rate of 7 percent before 2030.”Saudi women represent 64 percent of the total unemployment rate, he said while highlighting that Saudi women today are living in an unprecedented empowerment phase.Unveiling the policy of dealing firmly with those who try to undermine the nation’s security, the crown prince said: “We will strike with an iron fist all those who threaten the Kingdom’s security and stability. Extremism is no longer accepted in the Kingdom, but rather it has become an outcast, disguised and alienated,” he said.The Crown Prince also noted the Kingdom’s efforts to combat the scourge of terrorism and extremism. “I made promises in 2017 that we will eliminate extremism immediately, and we have actually started a serious campaign to address the causes and address the phenomena. Within one year, we were able to eliminate an ideological scheme that was made over 40 years.”“Today, extremism is no longer acceptable in Saudi Arabia. We will continue to face any extremist manifestations, actions, and ideas. The Saudis have proven their true tolerance and their rejection of these ideas that were alien to them and that were disguised in the cloak of religion.”According to the crown prince, hate speech is the main motivation for extremists’ recruitment. “The Kingdom condemns and rejects all practices and actions that generate hatred and violence and are committed to confronting extremist rhetoric, as it rejects any attempt to link Islam with terrorism.He affirmed that intellectual freedom is a means of respect and tolerance, just as Islam criminalizes these terrorist operations and prohibits bloodshed and prevents treachery and unlawful killing of the innocent.“We hope that the world would stop slandering religions and attacking religious and national symbols under the slogan of freedom of expression because this would create a fertile environment for extremism and terrorism.”Referring to expatriates, the crown prince said that the Kingdom has worked to correct the status of nearly half a million expatriates so as to attract qualified workers with added value.“We have taken numerous measures to restructure the contractual relationship in a manner that preserves their rights and has taken an initiative to improve the contractual relationship to give the expatriate workers more work mobility. This initiative is expected to raise the productivity of workers and increase competitiveness in the Saudi economy,” he added.