(MENAFN - Arab News) A study from the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, criticizing the investment environment in the Kingdom, has triggered a war of words between the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and RCCI.
The study, presented in the recent Riyadh Economic Forum (REF), said that 68 percent of investors in the Kingdom had to resort to bribery or other corrupt practices to start businesses and that government officials were increasingly causing hurdles for investors, Al-Eqtisadiah reported on Sunday.
The study also criticized SAGIA's focus on foreign investment projects in SMEs.
On the other hand, SAGIA dismissed the study's findings as unscientific and feared the allegations could be harmful to the Kingdom's interests.
Suleiman Al-Mindeel, a member of the team that prepared the study, said the research was conducted by a six-member team of experts and a consultative firm.
The team would issue a reply to the SAGIA's remarks, he said.
Al-Mindeel added that it was not the first time the RCCI's studies have upset authorities.
Instead of discrediting the study, SAGIA should strive to find solutions to the issues raised, he said.
A member of REF's preparatory committee, Huda Al-Jeraisy, dismissed SAGIA's criticism of the samples used in the study.
She said scientific studies are based on samples and not the entire population.
In the US, which has a population of 307 million, for instance, many studies have been made based on the responses of a sample group consisting of 1,000 people and no one questions the reliability of such research, she said.
As a healthy reaction to the chamber's study, she suggested that effective steps should be taken to implement the recommendations to solve the issues.
In a recent statement issued, SAGIA criticized the study, saying it was not scientific enough.
The study's sample group constituted less than one percent of more than 900,000 business owners in the Kingdom, the statement claimed.
Regarding SAGIA's focus on foreign investments in SME projects, the statement pointed out that only 20 percent of foreign investments in Japan were in SMEs.
The statement also pointed out that the study did not consider the front-rank position of the Kingdom in the global economy and investment.
The Kingdom is a member of G20 countries and occupies 17th rank in the report of the World Economic Forum and is ranked 12th by World Bank for the ease of doing business, said the SAGIA statement.
The Kingdom has the highest rate of investment flow in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with an annual average of 25 billion, the statement said.