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21.11.2017

Saudi Arabia is waking up with a post-oil hangover.

It’s easy to be optimistic about the economy if you live in a resource-rich country with a “golden goose” everyone wants to buy. Jobs are created, people can afford homes, government budgets are well-padded and there’s plenty of discretionary spending for everyone. However, it’s an entirely different story when demand sinks and prices plummet. For...
Time: 13:39     Date: 13.09.2017
Last US Business News: Saudi Arabia is waking up with a post-oil hangover. NY Post 24 - US News

Jobs are created, people can afford homes, government budgets are well-padded and there’s plenty of discretionary spending for everyone.

However, it’s an entirely different story when demand sinks and prices plummet.

For example, low oil prices are crippling Saudi Arabia’s resource-dependent economy, and the Kingdom is now scrambling to diversify.

Creating a life post-oil is easier said than done.

A Saudi man leads camels as he heads back home from a training center near Tabuk, Saudi Arabia.AFP/Getty Images

OPEC data estimates Saudi Arabia sits on about 20 percent of the world’s petroleum reserves, and oil and gas account for about half of its GDP.

Quartz reports the drop in prices from about $100 per barrel in 2014 to just $50 today has “blown a hole in Saudi’s budget, forcing it to burn through its reserves and borrow billions to finance its deficit.”

Essentially, there’s way too much oil on the market.

CNBC reported prices could fall as low as $30 a barrel, due to oversupply from the United States, as well as countries like Libya and Nigeria.

Considering the IMF predicts Saudi Arabia needs oil prices to hit $84 per barrel just to break even, financial reserves are drying up fast.

This year, the fund predicted the country’s GDP growth to be close to zero, and the government is now scrambling to plug the holes.

According to the Financial Times, Saudi officials have created an “exceedingly ambitious” National Transformation Program, which has a multitude of initiatives and targets.

Getty Images

For one thing, the country will boost the education and skills of its citizens.

It’s planning to create 1.2 million private-sector jobs in the hope to reducing unemployment from 11.6 percent to nine percent by 2020.

It’s also investing big in construction, spending an estimated $100 billion to build a business-friendly hub called King Abdullah Economic City, which it hopes will attract foreign investment in manufacturing, technology, and pharmaceuticals.

Tourism is burgeoning, largely thanks to the annual Muslim pilgrimage to the city of Mecca known as the Hajj, and they’re hoping to cash in on that too.

However, low oil prices undoubtedly restrict the country’s wiggle room.

The situation is so bad the government can’t afford to invoke austerity measures because a cut in government spending would make the situation worse.

With limited options, Saudi Arabia has brought out its big guns.

It’s hoping to raise a significant amount of money by privatizing up to five percent of its enormous state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco.

Getty Images

It will be the world’s largest initial public offering and will be listed in Riyadh as well as at least one foreign exchange.

The government has started trying to make the sale more attractive by slashing the company’s tax rate from 85 percent to 50 percent.

Fortune reports it will reduce the tax burden by tens of billions of dollars.

The sale could earn the Saudi government up to $2 trillion, and provide a much-needed boost for the country’s economy.

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