The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority is to allow foreign companies to fully own five industrial projects in the kingdom, the Al-Iqtissadiya newspaper said Tuesday.
The five projects have been awarded to Indian, Iranian, Kuwaiti and Syrian companies, the paper added, without disclosing the value of the investments.
Saudi Arabia has since last year announced a package of legal reforms to encourage foreign investment and diversify sources of revenue.
The reforms will allow foreign investors to own industrial companies and property and amend the system of local sponsorship for foreigners doing business in Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter.
Crown Prince Abdullah confirmed the maximum rate of taxation on companies had been lowered to 30 percent, down from 45 percent, but added that the 10-year tax holiday for new start-ups had been scrapped.
The kingdom, seeking to join the World Trade Organization, also launched a privatization program in 1997 in an effort to cut red tape and allow the public sector to grow independently of a government whose investment capacity relies on fluctuating oil prices.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted earlier this week that Gulf oil exporters, buoyed by a rise in energy prices, should return to positive growth this year after suffering contractions in 1999.
The IMF predicted in its World Economic Outlook report released in Prague growth of 3.5 percent in Saudi Arabia this year, after a one- percent contraction in 1999, and 2.9 percent in 2001.— (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )