Saudi Arabia's National Development Fund has supported the local economy with more than 28 billion Saudi riyals ($7.46bn) in financing since the coronavirus pandemic began to help the "most affected" sectors deal with the "fluctuations" caused by the health crisis, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.
The fund supported healthcare and educational facilities through the initiatives of the Social Development Bank and the Kafala programme, and arranged the restructuring of loans for small, medium and large medical projects through the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, SPA said on Saturday.
"The development system [launched by the NDF] aimed to support employment in the private sector, raise the competencies and financing of individuals, and enable self-employment through the initiatives of the Human Resources Development Fund and the Social Development Bank," the agency said.
"The system also provided support to the agricultural sector in stimulating small and medium enterprises and facilitating the import of agricultural products through the initiatives of the Agricultural Development Fund."
Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's largest economy, unveiled various initiatives to support the local economy since the pandemic began in 2020.
They include a 3.7bn-riyal stimulus package to support companies in the industrial sector affected by the pandemic, as well as 50bn riyals to speed up payments to the private sector.
The kingdom’s central bank also injected 50bn riyals into its banking sector to boost liquidity and enhance the lending capacity of financial institutions as part of efforts to support the sector amid the pandemic. It also allocated 70bn riyals to support businesses and postponed some government fees and taxes.
The NDF has also extended support to sectors such as Hajj and Umrah, sports, supply chain and aviation — which in particular faced "unprecedented and exacerbating repercussions" amid the cancellation of flights and closure of the airports since the outbreak of the pandemic, SPA said.
The support provided by the fund covered more than 350,000 people and 36,000 large, medium, small and micro enterprises.
"The National Development Fund and its subsidiaries continue their role in enhancing confidence in the economy by relieving pressure on the state’s public treasury through development financing, acting as an effective tool to confront economic fluctuations and acting as an engine for continued growth in the kingdom’s economy in order to achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030," SPA said.
The NDF, with assets worth 496bn riyals, was established in 2017 to oversee economic development financing across several ministries in the kingdom.
It supervises the activities of its development funds and banks, and co-ordinates policies to improve their performance and support economic priorities in line with Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the kingdom's economy.
The fund has pumped more than 690bn riyals through its affiliates since it was founded and is “one of the largest development financing funds" in terms of the ratio of assets to gross domestic product in the G20 group, the SPA reported in March.
Thefund aims to triple the kingdom's non-oil GDP to 605bn riyals by 2030 and contribute more than 570bn riyals to the kingdom’s real GDP growth.