(MENAFN - Arab News) Riyadh Economic Forum (REF) concluded with key recommendations primarily suggesting to take the advantage of rain water in the Kingdom amounting to 150 billion cubic meters per year and import water from Sudan in accordance with the international conventions.
Saad Al-Mujel, head of REF and deputy chairman of the board of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), patronized the closing session of REF, which wrapped up here Wednesday.
The last-day of the forum discussed a study on water as a major economic resource; a prerequisite for sustainable development and enhancement of small and medium enterprises' (SMEs) role in the national economy.
Addressing the gathering, Al-Mujel praised continuous support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah toward sustainable development and implementation of rules and regulations in the Kingdom.
"REF is part of our commitment to better developments and relations with private and government institutions in the Kingdom. It aims to serve through implementing innovative social initiatives that are aimed to boost the national economy," Al-Mujel added.
Under the chairmanship of Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad Al-Ibrahim, the chairman of the general establishment for water desalination, the forum focused on the water as an economic resource for the sustainable development in the Kingdom. It recommends the establishment of water resource management for the council's areas and pricing according to demand and supply.
"We should exert great efforts to grow our knowledge and experience in all sectors to enhance and encourage the people to boost economy," Al-Ibrahim said.
Some economists and consultants pointed out that water can become an economic resource with the help of productive use of water and correct consumption rates across the Kingdom.
The last-day of the forum also focused on the role of SMEs in economic development. The forum recommended working on the development of policies and regulations of the current funding.
The study called for taking advantage of the experiences of a number of countries to develop the funding policy, including the establishment of specialized banks to finance SMEs.
The forum recommended the establishment of specialized companies to lend for the purchase of machinery and services and to increase working capital.
It also called for working on the development of a mechanism for cooperation among government agencies to unify efforts and the promotion of SMEs sector.
According to the forum's study, "about 49 percent of enterprises do not use the technique, and that 19.9 percent of installations has done a feasibility study before the start of the activity."
The study called for using support as a tool to restructure sectors to bridge gaps in the market needs. It posed six initiatives to develop the SMEs sector. The include initiative to establish a development company for SMEs as a partnership between the government and the private sector, the legislative amendments and procedures needed to assist SMEs in obtaining government contracts, the industrial and commercial clusters, the business networks, providing an integrated business plan for facilities with similar actions, restructuring of the SMEs sector.
Some economists and business persons said they were ignorant about the problems discussed at the forum. They mentioned that they were ready to cooperate in the matter of crystallizing the forum recommendations "but government should adopt theses suggestions to boost the national income."
Speaking to Arab News, many consultants said they had to look for sustainability and development through research and accurate data. "There is a need to update Kingdom's rules and regulations and method of cooperation in all government and private sectors to support the Saudi economy," one of them said.
The panelists said people should be encouraged to start their own business. "We have to ensure the participation of small and medium companies to boost the national income," one panelist said.
Apart from the government officials and institutions, some 101 local and international economic consultants, decision-makers, and businessmen and women exceeding 1,500 attended the session.
The three-day forum, organized by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), aimed to participate in the economic growth of the Kingdom.