Approval for ministry restructuring proposal

12 July 2002

The Majlis al-Shoura (consultative council) has approved a feasibility study proposing a restructuring of the duties of two existing ministries to create a number of new institutions. The proposals entail the separation of the Finance & National Economy Ministry, leading to the creation of a dedicated finance ministry, the merger of the national economy ministry with the Planning Ministry, and the creation of an independent department of statistics, separate from the Planning Ministry.

While the proposal won widespread support from the Majlis al-Shoura, gaining about 90 per cent of the vote, it remains only a recommendation. However, economists are positive about the proposals, saying they reflect a desire to come to grips with fiscal discipline, plan the national economy more efficiently, and provide a reliable source of data and information.

'This is exactly the kind of recommendation that shows the Majlis al-Shoura is doing its job,' says Brad Bourland, chief economist of Saudi American Bank (Samba). 'It reflects a genuine desire to improve the way the economy is managed. I think the proposal for an independent department of statistics is especially valuable. If there's one lesson the corporate scandals in the US can teach us, it's that transparent and credible data is the oxygen the markets breathe.'

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