Cabinet OKs hike in gasoline, electricity and water prices

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Updated 29 December 2015

Cabinet OKs hike in gasoline, electricity and water prices

RIYADH: The Cabinet on Monday approved increases in the pump prices of gasoline as well as electricity and water rates, the first of a series of “comprehensive economic, fiscal, and structural reforms” recommended by the Ministry of Finance.
Gasoline price hikes are to take effect after 12 midnight Monday, while the adjustments in electricity and water rates will start on the first day of Rabiul Thani in the Islamic calendar, equivalent to January 11, 2016 in the Gregorian calendar.
Octane 91 will now cost 75 from the current 45 halalas. Octane 95 will increase to 90 halalas from the current 60 halalas, a Cabinet announcement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
With the directive, Saudi Aramco has ordered that all gasoline stations across the kingdom be closed by nightfall to allow the adjustment of prices in their pumping machines.
Other Gulf states such as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have earlier raised their pump prices amid a decline in oil prices worldwide, resulting in reduced revenues.
The new rates were approved during a Cabinet session on Monday, during which Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman also announced a national budget plan of SR840 billion for 2016, with a view to reducing the deficit and a drive to raise revenues from sources other than oil.
In a press statement released earlier in the day, the MOF revealed plans to review government subsidies for fuel, electricity and water as the government announced cuts in the 2016 budget.
The ministry said it is considering “revisions in energy, water, and electricity prices gradually over the next five years, in order to achieve efficiency in energy use, conserve natural resources, stop waste and irrational use, and minimize negative effects on low and mid-income citizens and the competitiveness of the business sector.”
Another measure mentioned by the Finance Ministry is a review of current levels of fees and fines, introduction of new fees, and completion the necessary arrangements for the application of the value added tax (VAT) approved by the Supreme Council of the Arab Gulf States Cooperation Council at its 36th session held in Riyadh last month.
The ministry also called for the “application of additional fees on harmful goods such as tobacco, soft drinks and the like.”
Among the other measures outlined by the MOF are more on structural reforms, including:
• Reducing the growth of recurring expenditures, especially wages, salaries, allowances and the like, which amounted to SR 450 billion, exceeding 50 percent of the approved budget expenses.
• Optimizing operating expenditures, including the rationalization of government agencies’ expenses, the utilization of technology (IT) for the delivery of government services, and the development and strengthening control and governance mechanisms.
• Completing the revision of the government’s competitiveness and procurement law, in accordance with world-class practices.
• Establishing a unit in the Ministry of Finance for public debt management. The new unit will be responsible for developing and overseeing the public debt and financing strategy and strengthening the Kingdom's ability to borrow both domestically and internationally; thus contributing to the market for sukuk and local bonds.


The Hajjana: heritage of Saudi Arabia’s camel riding border patrol honored

Updated 34 min 4 sec ago

The Hajjana: heritage of Saudi Arabia’s camel riding border patrol honored

The Hajjana — fearless camel riders who patrolled the Kingdom’s borders — helped pave the way for the establishment of the modern Saudi state.
Their story goes back almost 90 years when a Hajjana border patrol was established during the reign of King Abdul Aziz in 1933.
After the Kingdom’s founder reclaimed Al-Ahsa, he ordered sea and land patrols to be carried out to tighten security in the region’s border areas.
Patrols were led by camel riders, so a military sector was formed at that time known as Hajjana. Its name was derived from their means of transport — camels.
Now, nine decades later, the Camel Club has established the Royal Hajjana to commemorate the group’s distinguished cultural heritage.
Since its creation in April, the Royal Hajjana has been preparing to take part in official reception ceremonies for King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s guests as well as national festivals sponsored by the king and crown prince.
It will also perform in Saudi heritage shows and represent the Kingdom in local and international camel festivals.
Hajjana officers became famous throughout the country after acquiring their name from the “hejin,” or camel. They protected the Kingdom’s residents from the south of the Empty Quarter to north of the Nafud Desert.
One of the founding king’s priorities was to provide security and protect the nation’s borders, so the Border Guard was among the first military sectors created.
The Coast Guard’s budget also included allocations for Hajjana officers, known as the Hajjana patrol commanders, whose role was part of the Frontier Corps.
Patrols continued to operate in southern regions until recently. However, the memory of the Hajjana remains fresh in the minds of the Kingdom’s border guards.