King orders SR1.85bn in ‘Ramadan aid’ for social security beneficiaries


Saudi Gazette report

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has ordered disbursement of SR1.85 billion ($492.4 million) as “Ramadan aid” for social security beneficiaries.

“The head of a family will be given SR1,000 and dependents will be given SR500,” a Saudi Press Agency (SPA) report said on Monday.

The decision comes at a time when the coronavirus pandemic and the crash in oil prices have started to take their toll on the Saudi economy and public finances.

Earlier, the Kingdom announced new “painful” measures to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus including: reducing public expenditure by SR100 billion ($26.6 billion), raising value added tax (VAT) to 15 percent, and suspending cost of living allowance handouts.

A ministerial committee has also been formed to study all financial benefits paid to public sector employees and contractors and will submit its recommendations after 30 days.

Some of the measures previously taken by the government which directly impact the income of nationals and residents include allowing private companies to reduce employees’ salaries by 40 percent, given that they meet a set of requirements.

The government has also supported Saudi nationals, through the disbursement of approximately SR1.2 billion ($319 million) to more than 400,000 Saudi nationals working in private sector companies which were affected by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.