Government slammed for not raising tax on cigarettes

Updated 01 June 2013

Government slammed for not raising tax on cigarettes

The anti-smoking society, Niqaa, is blaming the Ministry of Finance for the spread of smoking in the country because of its continued refusal to increase taxes on the import of tobacco. The ministry argues that if it did so smuggling will increase.
The issue was highlighted yesterday on the World Anti-Smoking Day under the slogan "No to ads, promotion and patronage of tobacco."
“The issue of price is the responsibility of the Finance Ministry, and it always comes up with the excuse that raising the price will encourage smuggling,” Society President Mohammad Jaber Alyamani said.
“This is because smokers will not buy if it costs up to SR 40 a packet. We have raised this issue with the ministry but it still has reservation, and says this will increase smuggling.”
Mohammad Al-Quhiess, former Shoura Council member, said in interviews that there is a strong tobacco lobby in the Kingdom.
He added that the resolve to fight spread of tobacco has been made by the Shuora Council and will be implemented soon.
He said the price of cigarettes in Saudi Arabia is the lowest in the world and taxes on tobacco are very low, something which encourages youngsters and adults to start and continue smoking. In Europe and South America the price of a packet of cigarettes can be as high as SR 40 but in Saudi Arabia, its just SR 5.
He said that tobacco companies in Saudi Arabia have become audacious, distributing cigarettes on the World Anti-Smoking Day on the Al Hamara Beach in Jeddah. He stressed that everybody has to take a strong and serious stand against smoking in Saudi Arabia, especially among young people. Statistics show that there are 6 million smokers in the kingdom, of which 600,000 are women.
“The percentage of smokers in boys schools in the Kingdom is more than 12 percent, whereas the percentage the world over is decreasing.
“The issue of financial support is a major hindrance facing the society, coupled with the lack of effective laws to stop smoking in public places such as airports, where one can find officers smoking under the 'no smoking' signs.”
He said the Health Ministry is playing its role and has an anti-smoking campaign and will sign an agreement with the society to increase efforts against smoking.

Saudi Arabia to send Syrians an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid

Updated 26 April 2018

Saudi Arabia to send Syrians an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid

  • Total relief provided by the Kingdom since the war began now stands at about $1billion
  • Latest package announced by Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir at conference in Brussels

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will provide an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of the people of Syria, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

The announcement of the latest aid package was made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir on April 25 at an international conference on the future of Syria and the region, held in the Belgian capital Brussels. He pointed out that the meeting comes after the suspected chemical attack in the city of Douma, in eastern Ghouta, which killed dozens of civilians, including women and children.

“The world is facing a regime allied with terrorist militias who believe that spreading atrocities and committing crimes will bring victory to it, and that war crimes are bearing fruit,” said Al-Jubeir. “In addition to bombing civilians with explosive barrels, the policies of starvation and siege, ethnic and sectarian cleansing, and the demographic change of Syrian cities and towns, its use of chemical weapons have shocked the entire world.”

He said that the only acceptable solution to the Syrian crisis is a peaceful political resolution, and that Saudi Arabia has been working to achieve this since the crisis began, while also working with others to end the continuing human tragedy in the war-torn country.

The Kingdom has played a role in unifying the ranks of the Syrian opposition and encouraging them to speak with one voice, he added. After the Riyadh 1 Conference in 2015, Saudi Arabia hosted the Riyadh 2 conference for the Syrian opposition in November 2017, which succeeded in unifying the factions and establishing a negotiating body to take part in the rounds of talks held since then, earning praise from the United Nations.

The foreign minister also reiterated his country’s support for the efforts of the UN secretary-general’s envoy, Stephan de Mistura, to resume negotiations between all sides of the conflict.

“The Kingdom hopes that the agreements endorsed by the international resolutions on the ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to its beneficiaries will be implemented throughout Syria, regardless of their ethnic, religious, sectarian or political affiliations, and calls for the speedy release of detainees and abductees and clarifying the situation of those absent,” said Al-Jubeir. “It also renews its demand to punish individuals and institutions for war crimes and to prevent their impunity.”

He added that the worsening humanitarian crisis affecting refugees inside and outside of Syria should add to the urgency of finding a political solution and resuming the negotiating process as soon as possible.

Since the war began, the Kingdom has taken in about two and a half million Syrians and treats them like its own citizens, Al-Jubeir said, providing them with free health care, work and education. Saudi universities and schools have more than 140,000 Syrian students. He added that Saudi Arabia is also supporting and helping to care for of millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, in coordination with the governments of those countries. The humanitarian assistance provided so far totals about $1 billion.