Assessing Saudi Vision 2030: A 2020 review – The Atlantic Council published an interesting review of the Saudi reform program, providing a comprehensive look at the state of the Vision 2030 effort.
The broad conclusions are…
Using Vision 2030’s own “Key Performance Indicators” (KPIs) where available, economic data on Saudi Arabia, and comparative national surveys, the authors attempt to objectively assess the progress and approach toward this reform program to date. What they find is that the Saudi government has invested a tremendous amount of energy, effort, and money in the Vision 2030 reforms, with some noteworthy achievements to date: namely in terms of fiscal stabilization and macroeconomic management, the development of capital markets and the banking system, the digitization of government services, and social reforms. In many other areas, however, reform efforts are falling short of their intended objectives, most notably in creating jobs and transforming the private sector into an engine of growth.
As for the Saudi government’s approach to reform, there is broad recognition that Saudi Arabia must change. However, when the authors spoke to officials in 2018 and 2019, there seemed less of a sense of urgency regarding the pace and a lack of understanding of the depth of the transformation required. The government has concentrated economic and political decision-making at the top and focused its efforts on using institutions like the Public Investment Fund (PIF) to attract foreign investment, so far without great success.
Saudi Arabia now faces another economic crisis, only six years after the 2014 oil price collapse, and it may feel the need to reevaluate some of its Vision 2030 programs.
Link to the study is found below. There is also an interesting video with a good discussion of the study’s key findings.