The recently announced National Transformation Plan (NTP) is part of the wider Vision 2030 strategy that was approved in April. The NTP identifies specific objectives that need to be met by various ministries and government departments by 2020, in order to create jobs, diversify the economy and improve the living standards of Saudis.
In total, the NTP will cost the government 268 billion Saudi riyals to implement. The biggest share of these funds will go to the housing ministry, with the industrial cities of Yanbu & Jubail, education and health ministries also taking substantial chunks of the overall budget.
The housing ministry has been allocated nearly 60 billion Saudi riyals under the NTP. These funds will be used to reduce the average cost of a house to five-times the individuals’ income, increase the financing available to help people buy houses, and cut the waiting time to get housing finance to 5 years from 15 years currently. By 2020, the government wants 52% of Saudi families to own their own homes, up from 47% today. In order to help achieve these goals, the housing ministry will make it quicker for developers to get licenses and permits to build, and the government has imposed a tax on unused urban land.
The Vision 2030 strategy puts huge emphasis on economic diversification. To this end, the NTP has allocated more than 40bn Saudi riyals to the industrial cities of Yanbu & Jubail to encourage the development of the manufacturing sector, attract private sector investment into manufacturing and train young Saudis with the necessary skills to grow this sector.
A further 24 billion Saudi riyals has been given to the education ministry to improve the quality of education. The government aims to double the number of children in kindergarten by 2020, halve the illiteracy rate among adults, and increase the number of students in private education to 15%, up from 6% currently. Teachers are to be given more training, and targets have been set for students to pass international tests for maths, science and reading by 2020.
Another key priority of the NTP is to improve the standard of health care in the kingdom, with 23 billion riyals of NTP funds set aside for the health ministry. This will include doubling the number of Saudi doctors and nurses in training by 2020, and increasing the share of private sector spending on healthcare. Targets have been set for improving patient safety, including 100% licensing of medical facilities.