07 1438 | Mar 2017

An Ambitious Nation Effectively Governed

The roles and requirements of government have grown significantly since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s founding. Government – any government – needs to evolve and improve continuously, if only to keep pace with rising expectations and new challenges. This requires us to meet high standards of transparency and accountability. We are committed to managing our finances efficiently and effectively, and to creating agile public organizations and to tracking both their own performance and that of the government overall.

Embracing transparency

We shall have zero tolerance for all levels of corruption, whether administrative or financial. We will adopt leading international standards and administrative practices, helping us reach the highest levels of transparency and governance in all sectors. We will set and uphold high standards of accountability. Our goals, plans and performance indicators will be published so that progress and delivery can be publicly monitored. Transparency will be boosted and delays reduced by expanding online services and improving their governance standards, with the aim of becoming a global leader in e-government.

Protecting our vital resources

We will continue to build safe and sufficient strategic food reserves, to better guard against emergencies. Aquaculture will be promoted, as will strategic partnerships with countries blessed with natural resources such as fertile soil and water reserves. In Saudi Arabia, the use of water in agriculture will be prioritized for those areas with natural and renewable water sources. We will also continue to collaborate with consumers, food manufacturers and distributors to reduce any resource wastage.

Engaging everyone

We will deepen communication channels between government agencies on one hand and citizens and the private sector on the other. We shall facilitate interactive, online and smart engagement methods and ways to listen to citizens’ views, and to hear all insights and perspectives. We will encourage government agencies to improve the quality of their services, and to meet the needs of every citizen. We want to give everyone the opportunity to have their say so that the government can serve them better and meet their aspirations.

Committing to efficient spending and balanced finances

Our commitment is clear: there will be no taxes on citizens’ income or wealth, nor on basic goods. We shall prudently and efficiently balance our budget, as well as diversify and maximize our revenue sources. Our goal is to keep prices stable over the long term, and give Saudi citizens greater economic security. In the public sector, we will seek to eliminate waste and continue to make spending more efficient. This will be achieved through stricter spending controls, focusing on high impact projects, aligning strategic priorities to budget, rigorous auditing and putting in place tough accountability mechanisms. We have reviewed all our existing and approved projects to ensure that they will have a sufficiently positive impact on the nation and our economy. We have taken the necessary measures to halt projects that fail to show potential impact and meet predefined standards. We will plan also for better management of our talented civil service, and provide shared services within our government according to best practices. We will work to further improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Public Investment Fund, so that its proceeds can become a new and sustainable public revenue stream. Non-oil revenues will increase as logistical and trade flows increase, and as we grow a more diversified and balanced Saudi economy. We will continue to manage effectively oil production to ensure a rewarding flow of oil revenue and reinvestment. We will revamp government license and service fees and develop the appropriate collection tools. Finally, we will seek to offer, at appropriate fees, a number of new services in select sectors, such as municipal, transport and labor sectors.

Organizing ourselves with agility

By eliminating supreme councils in the Kingdom and establishing the Council of Political and Security Affairs and the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, we have increased our effectiveness, efficiency and the speed of decision-making. We will continue in this policy direction, to deliver this Vision for Saudi Arabia. This will result in effective governance and better business continuity within each ministry. We will carefully examine our government structures and procedures, roles, responsibilities and capabilities. Our ambition is a more joined-up government, with clearer links between policy decisions, delivery, and performance monitoring. We will take an evidence-based approach, just as we will with preventing financial and administrative waste. We will continue to develop monitoring units and help them with recruitment, budgets and other organizational support, to make sure that Saudi services are performing well in accordance with global best practices. These units will push for coordination between government agencies and other relevant bodies, as well as help them monitor and improve their performance

Our Commitments

King Salman Program for Human Capital Development

We have yet to identify and put into effect the best practices that would ensure that public sector employees have the right skills for the future. However, by 2020, we aim to have trained, through distance learning, 500,000 government employees. All ministries and government institutions will be required to adopt best practices in human capital development. We will continue to hire individuals according to merit and work towards building a broad talent base, so they may become leaders of the future. The King Salman Program for Human Capital Development will establish HR centers of excellence in every government agency, and provide training. We will work to raise the productivity of employees to the highest levels possible, by implementing proper performance management standards, providing continuous training for professional development, and sharing knowledge. We will develop targeted policies to identify and empower future leaders, and will furnish a stimulating environment that provides equal opportunities and rewards for excellence.

Shared services to our government agencies

We are working towards shared services across our government agencies. This will contribute to achieving our goal of increasing productivity and raising the efficiency of government spending. Shared services in our government will also aim to increase quality, cut costs, unify our efforts, and provide a suitable work environment for all parties at the lowest cost. Shared services can be applied globally and locally in many sectors. This is our long-term goal, and we will implement it gradually. As a first step therefore, we will examine the status of support services in government sectors, set the scope of work and develop comprehensive priorities and implementation plans. We will follow best practices in employing shared services, with a robust set of performance indicators that will measure quality, workflow improvement, cost reduction and knowledge transfer.  

Effective e-government

We have made remarkable progress in e-government. The scope of online services has already been expanded over the last decade to include employment programs, online job searches, e-learning services, traffic, passports and civil affairs, online payment services, online issuance of commercial registers, among others. This has improved Saudi Arabia’s ranking on several global indicators. In the UN e-Government Index, for instance, we ranked 36 in 2014, up from 90 in 2004. We will expand the scope of current online services further to include areas such as geographic information, health care and education. Quality will be improved by streamlining processes, and diversifying communication channels. We will also support the wider use of online applications in government agencies, such as cloud applications, data sharing platforms and HR management systems. Finally, we will strengthen the governance of online services within the government itself.

“Qawam”: increasing spending efficiency

We are committed to making our public spending radically more efficient, using our resources more effectively, and limiting waste. We will launch the “Qawam” program as a reflection of the Qur’anic verse that calls for moderation in spending between excess and parsimony. Allah the Almighty says: “And those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but hold a medium (way) between those (extremes)” Through this program, we will comprehensively review financial regulations in all government agencies. The program is intended to move away from a narrow reliance on process auditing, and move towards a more integrated approach with effective and efficient spending controls, and specific and measurable goals, while sustaining resources and assets. We will raise awareness and reward a culture of efficient spending throughout all administrative levels. Specialized training for employees and other key stakeholders will be provided as required, boosting the performance of finance departments and internal auditing.

Among our goals by 2030…

To increase non-oil government revenue from SAR 163 billion to SAR 1 Trillion

To raise our ranking in the Government Effectiveness Index, from 80 to 20

To raise our ranking on the E-Government Survey Index from our current position of 36 to be among the top five nations.

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