LONDON: Saudi Arabia plans to introduce a new way of calculating foreign investment that will bring it in line with G-20 economies which use the same method.

The government aims to have the new system in place by the end of the third quarter of 2018, Maaal reported.

Taysir Al-Mufrij, a spokesman for the General Authority of Statistics (GaStat), said the new approach would be adopted in partnership with the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA).

The trio plan to start work on a statistical publication next month.

 The publication’s outcomes will be adopted for estimating the actual investment flows into Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Sources told Maaal that the current data was based on estimated figures provided by SAMA— cash flows from abroad for foreign investment, which are part of the balance of payment estimates.

Data provided by SAGIA show that ongoing economic reforms have resulted in a 130-percent increase in the number of foreign investment licenses granted in the Kingdom during the first quarter of 2018.

Some 157 licenses were issued compared to 68 a year earlier.

Last year 377 new investment licenses worth SR5.7 billion were issued in Saudi Arabia.

A slew of reforms have helped to boost overseas investment in the Kingdom, such as allowing 100 percent foreign ownership in the engineering, education, and recruitment sectors as well as not requiring an initial approval for companies to begin operating.

The Kingdom has also moved to cut the red tape involved in getting a business license and shortening the overall time it takes to complete the process.

According to Maaal’s analysis, media reports that indicated a decline in foreign investment in Saudi Arabia in 2017 were based solely on figures provided by SAMA, which were cash flows of foreign investment estimated at more than SR5 billion for that year.

The Kingdom’s foreign investment data mentioned in these reports, as per Maaal’s analysis, did not include wholly owned investments, or those involving GCC partners.