Graft purge nearing its end


With the release of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal from detention on Jan 28, Saudi Arabia comes closer to wrapping up its three-month-old campaign against corruption. Prince Alwaleed, who owns Kingdom Holding Company and is one of the world’s wealthiest men, topped the list of 350 business figures and royals implicated in graft scandals. All were invited to reach settlements with Saudi authorities in exchange for freedom.

True to their style, Saudi authorities kept details of the financial agreement with Prince Alwaleed under wraps, as they did with the settlements reached with other businessmen. But in the interest of transparency and fairness, Riyadh ought to at least tell its citizens how much money was put back into the government coffers and what it plans to do with it. According to some unconfirmed reports, Saudi Arabia is expecting a colossal sum of $100 billion from these settlements – a large windfall for a country that has been offering generous subsidies to its citizens for decades.

Overall, the issue of financial settlements is important for the kingdom as it grapples with the complex and sensitive subject of taxation – only just introduced – and prepares its citizens and expatriate workers for austerity measures. Already, government officials have hinted at using the recovered assets to bankroll a package intended to help Saudis cope with rising inflation. This is all part of the vision for the future laid out by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman – a vision built on diversification of the oil economy. We hope this transition is as smooth as possible.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2018.

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    Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1620737/6-graft-purge-nearing-end/