Saudis welcome King’s generous gesture


Saudi Gazette report

Jeddah/Riyadh/Dammam — Saudis overwhelmingly welcomed the generous gesture of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman who on Saturday ordered a range of bonuses and payouts for citizens, including a monthly payment of SR1,000 for civil servants over the next year in compensation for rising cost of living.

In a royal decree, the King also ordered the payment of SR5,000 to military personnel serving at the front lines as well as a SR500 allowance for one year for retirees and those receiving social security.

The new payment orders were an acknowledgment of “the increased burdens for some segments of the population following from the necessary measures which the State took to restructure the economy,” according to the decree.

King Salman directed the State to bear the burden of Value Added Tax (VAT) in some situations, including special health and education services as well as the first purchase of a house that is valued at up to SR850,000. Allowances for students, retirees and social security recipients were also boosted. Student stipends will be increased by 10 percent.

The King also ordered that government salaries be paid before electricity bills are issued each month.

“These measures prove the leadership’s concern for citizens,” said Atif Al-Ghamdi, a public sector employee.

“We are proud of our leaders, who take all necessary steps to make sure that we lead a happy and decent life,” said Saleh Al-Zahrani, who works in the hospitality sector.

About 1.18 million Saudis are employed in the government sector and there are more than 1.23 million pensioners and beneficiaries of pension payments, the central bank says.

The government recently instituted a new welfare system reaching approximately 3 million families and 10.6 million beneficiaries- or roughly half the Saudi population.

Half of those families received the maximum payment of SR938. The minimum payment is SR300.

The government expects to pay approximately SR32 billion on the Citizen’s Account payments in 2018.

Saudi Arabia will slow plans to eliminate subsidies for a wide range of energy products, according to a new long-term fiscal plan in the 2018 state budget.

The coming year’s budget envisions record spending for the Kingdom, a move meant to return the economy to positive growth.