Investors upset as SAGIA cancels 374 licenses
Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) announced Tuesday that it canceled 374 licenses of foreign investors in 2013 after they failed to correct their status in tune with new regulations and conditions set by the organization to promote value-added investment.
The SAGIA move, which has brought down the number of foreign investment licenses from 9,265 to 6,000 this year, aims at attracting major international companies to ensure transfer of advanced technology and creation of more job opportunities for Saudis.
But many foreign investors, including Arabs, Americans, Canadians and Indians, said the action has negatively affected their investments worth billions of riyals and that they would take legal action against the organization.
SAGIA said it applied new rules and conditions on the basis of a royal decree that regulates its activities.
“There are three types of foreign investors,” said Khaled Al-Khathlan, deputy governor of SAGIA, adding that many license holders have violated the regulations. He said 10 percent of licensed foreign firms created 90 percent of jobs in the sector.
According to a report, 167 investors have lodged complaints at the Court of Grievances against SAGIA with the hope that it would issue a fair verdict in order to avoid taking the case to the international center for settlement of investment disputes in the US.
One investor said SAGIA was imposing an annual fee of SR12,000 for each license. “The royal decree calls for equal treatment of Saudi and foreign investors, but in practice this is not the case,” said another investor.
A SAGIA official told the Shoura Council that it would complete its survey of foreign investment projects shortly to make proposals to improve the Kingdom’s investment climate.