Saudi Arabia approves development plan for its financial sector

RIYADH, May 9 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia approved on Wednesday a development programme for its financial sector, the main part of a massive economic reform plan known as Saudi Vision 2030, that aims to diversify the economy away from oil.

“The programme’s objectives include creating a diversified and effective financial services sector to support the development of the national economy, diversifying its sources of income, and stimulate savings, finance, and investments,” state news agency SPA reported.

Among the main targets for the Saudi Financial Development Programme are increasing the total size of financial assets to GDP ratio to 201 percent by 2020 or 6.3 trillion riyals, from 192 percent in 2016, or 4.7 trillion riyals, according to a copy of the programme.

To diversify the structure of financial services sector, the programme aims to increase the share of capital markets assets -- total domestic market capitalization and outstanding debt issuances registered at the exchange -- to 45 percent in 2020 from 41 percent in 2016.

It also plans to raise SMEs’ bank financing to 5 percent by 2020 from 2 percent now, and mortgage financing to 16 percent by 2020 from 7 percent in 2016. (Reporting by Marwa Rashad; writing by Rania El Gamal Editing by Hugh Lawson)