210428 Bin Salman interview
A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on April 27, 2021, shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during an interview with the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) in the capital Riyadh to mark the fifth anniversary of his vision 2030. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Saudi Arabia is not planning to introduce income tax, while the 15 per cent VAT rate is a temporary decision for five years, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said in a TV interview on Tuesday.

Speaking on the Rotana Khaleejiah channel, the Crown Prince spoke about the Kingdom’s economic plans, developments and achievements made since the launch of the Saudi Vision 2030.

The interview marks the fifth anniversary of the Vision 2030, which aims to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy without reliance on oil.

“There are no plans at all the introduce any income tax in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The 15 per cent VAT rate is imposed for five years only,” the Crown Prince said.

He also spoke on plans to eventually reduce the VAT rate in Saudi Arabia, calling the move to increase the rate to 15 per cent a painful decision that he personally had to undertake.

“This step was painful for me personally because I do not want to affect Saudi citizens in any manner. My responsibility is to guarantee and build the future of Saudi citizens in the long term, for the next 20-30 years,” the Crown Prince said.

“Saudi Arabia was a country that existed before the discovery of oil and the Kingdom has great opportunities in many sectors other than oil,” he added.

“Our goal is to compete with the world in all spheres, adding that oil only meets some of our needs but we cannot continue to rely on it as we are heading for the future,” he stressed

The Crown Prince explained figures related to housing policies, legislation and the private sector’s contribution to the Kingdom’s economy, reviewing many economic figures, most notably the growth reflected in the Saudi stock market index.

Speaking of the future, Mohammed bin Salman said: “We will launch the vision 2040 after achieving the goals of the vision 2030. Now, we are in negotiating to sell 1 per cent of Aramco to a foreign investor.”

The Kingdom’s foreign policy is based on its interests. “Saudi Arabia will not accept any pressure or interference in its domestic affairs, and we deal with others to strengthen our interests and avoid differences,” the Crown Prince said.

On Saudi-US relations, he explained that the Kingdom agrees with the US President Joe Biden’s administration on 90 per cent of issues.

“We are working together to find common ground on disagreements. Like every family, brothers do not agree 100 per cent on all issues and matters. This is the same case when it comes to inter-government relations,” he said.

“The difference, of course, is due to the difference between consecutive American administrations. The margin of difference may increase or decrease but we agree on 90 per cent of President Biden’s policy and we hope to bridge the 10 per cent gap,” the Crown Prince added.

On Yemen, Mohammed bin Salman reaffirmed the Saudi position to reach a political solution, expressing the hope that Al Houthis will come to the negotiating table to arrive at a solution accepted by all parties.

“No country in the world would accept armed militias on its borders. Al Houthis are Arab, and we hope they revive their Arab identity. Iran is supporting Al Houthis and this is not accepted,” he said.