Saudi Arabia announced urgent economic measures worth 120 billion riyals ($32 billion) to support businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said on Friday.
“The government prepared urgent initiatives to support private small and medium enterprises and other business activities that are most affected by the consequences of this epidemic,” al-Jadaan said in a statement.
A new set of measures worth 70 billion riyals include a three-month postponement for collecting customs tax, value added tax, municipality tax and other government service fees required by private businesses.
The government will also exempt businesses from fees they might have to pay for employees whose residency expired until June 30, besides other flexible measures related to exit visas.
These decisions are an addition to the 50 billion riyal program announced last week by the kingdom’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, to support the private sector.
The Finance Ministry said such moves aimed at mitigating the impact of the virus outbreak on the private sector and ensure financial stability.
This week, Riyadh announced it will decrease its planned expenditures in the 2020 budget by around 5 per cent, amid declining oil prices and the coronavirus outbreak.
Saudi Arabia, which announced 274 registered coronavirus cases so far, has already halted the Muslim Umrah pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, suspended international flights and will stop domestic flights and public transport starting Saturday.