Women to take part in municipal polls

Updated 26 July 2014
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Women to take part in municipal polls

The Council of Ministers has approved legislation that would allow Saudi women to vote and stand as candidates in upcoming municipal council elections.
Women were not allowed to participate in the 2011 elections but Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques had ordered shortly before the polls that they should be allowed to do so from the 2015 elections onwards.
The law allows councils to approve and implement municipal plans and programs approved in the budget. They would also oversee maintenance, operating, development and investment projects, the law states.
The Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs would determine the size and make-up of councils. They should not exceed 30 members, with two-thirds elected and a third appointed by the minister.
The law gives men and women the right to stand as candidates, vote and nominate others. It grants independent, non-governmental and non-profit establishments and charities the right to observe election procedures.
These decisions were taken at the council's meeting on Monday, chaired by Crown Prince Salman.
At the beginning of the session, the council considered the details of the talks between King Abdullah and King Mohammad VI of Morocco, and his telephone conversation with Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, Egypt's president. The council also reviewed the Crown Prince’s talks with Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, prime minister of Bahrain.
Minister of Culture and Information Abdul Aziz Khoja said the Council of Ministers reviewed several reports on international and regional developments. He slammed the Israeli government for its aggression against the Palestinians and repeated requests from the Kingdom for the international community to take action against the Zionist state.
Khoja said the Ministry of Interior has issued regulations around the Haj and Umrah, which includes a ban on non-Saudis being involved in the provision of accommodation for pilgrims. A representative of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities should be appointed to the permanent committees in Makkah and Madinah, he said.
The Council of Ministers also reviewed a report of the Minister of Finance, and approved several procedures including issuing licenses to the General Investment Fund to set up single or joint companies inside and outside the Kingdom, in the public and private sectors.
After reviewing the remarks of the Minister of Transport, the council gave Saher the authority to issue fines for drivers and vehicles at fixed and mobile weight stations and elsewhere. The council stated that the majority of Saher employees should be Saudi nationals, and committees set up should be approved by the Ministries of Interior, Transport and Finance.
The Council of Ministers, after reviewing remarks from the president of the Financial Market Authority, and recommendations of the economic council permanent committee, granted the authority the power to allow foreign financial institutions to buy and sell shares listed in the Saudi financial sector.


Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

Updated 1 min 37 sec ago
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Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

JEDDAH: A major economic boost in the form of 10 major projects and investments exceeding SR685 billion ($183 billion) were unveiled as celebrations of the 88th Saudi National Day got under way.
The Council of Saudi Chambers released a report focusing on great economic achievements in 2017.
These projects reflect the Kingdom’s vision under the wise leadership of King Salman and that of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide a brighter future through diversifying sources of national income, tackling environmental challenges and increasing investment and prosperity.
The report summarized the most important events and economic developments in the Kingdom over the past year. These include the lifting of the ban on women driving in June, and the establishment of the General Authority for Cyber Security, in addition to the numerous royal decrees providing financial support to Saudis.
It also noted the important decisions related to the Saudi business sector. These include the launch of a private sector incentive program with a value of SR72 billion, the privatization of 10 government sectors and the establishment of the General Authority for Real Estate. The private sector is still showing a strong performance as an efficient partner in the inclusive development process and in the achievement of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, the report noted, as it contributes 39 percent to the Saudi gross domestic product (GDP).
The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017. There has been increased contribution to GDP from non-oil private sector streams.
The private sector also witnessed an increase in the number of workers, in its capital, in the number of shares on the Saudi market, in the cumulative number of establishments operating in the Kingdom, and in non-oil exports.
Continued growth of the private sector was attributed by the report to the Saudi government’s support. This support comes through initiatives such as the removal of obstacles to financial development, improvements to the working environment and policies adopted to boost investment.
It also reviewed the private sector’s efforts to support diversification of the economy and lower unemployment rates.
The importance of the measures taken to prioritize the employment of qualified Saudi workers over the employment of expatriates in the private sector were stressed, as well as the sector’s role in providing education and health services.