Hike in gasoline prices across KSA will help in govt plan for efficient energy use: Experts

Experts believe the hike in fuel prices will help bring about a change in energy consumption pattern in the Kingdom. (Reuters/File)
Updated 02 January 2018

Hike in gasoline prices across KSA will help in govt plan for efficient energy use: Experts

RIYADH: With the hike in fuel prices effective as of midnight Sunday, the Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MCI) intensified its control on fuel stations across the Kingdom to ensure availability of petroleum products at prices fixed by the government.
The regulatory authorities were constantly monitoring markets to ensure that prices were not manipulated and supplies not interrupted in view of the increase. After the hike, 91 octane will now sell for SR1.37 ($0.37) per liter, up from 75 halalas per liter, whereas 95 octane will now sell for SR2.04 per liter, up from 90 halalas per liter. Notably, the new prices also include the value-added tax (VAT), which is being levied from Monday.
Moreover, diesel rates for transport and kerosene rates were left unchanged as the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources explained on Monday its financial balance plan and the aim of reducing the rapid growth in domestic consumption of energy products and efficient energy use in line with Saudi Vision 2030, which seeks to diversify the economy and sources of revenue away from oil.
Speaking to Arab News on the government plan on efficient use of energy coinciding with an ambitious reform plan to diversify income, Hesham Alghannam, a Saudi analyst, Fulbright scholar and a consultant on Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Gulf affairs, said: “I have been saying for a while now, it would not be difficult for the state to push for cultural and social change. However, the challenge remains in the implementation of economic reform, as the economy is always complicated.
“It is not something that you can predict easily. I think that trial and error is one way to do it. At least there is a serious will to change and reform for betterment.”
Alghannam also pointed that the Saudi private sector is not capable of being a part of the solution. There are a number of reasons for this: First, the Saudi “private” sector is not genuinely private, most of its activities are recycling the oil rent, and it is to this extent hard to conceive of it purely as a profit or job creator. Second, the needs of the private sector are poorly aligned with the internal job market. This is shown by the difficulties in recruiting sufficient numbers of Saudi youth to certain jobs. Ultimately, the private sector is driven by its balance sheet and its profit and loss account.
“I also agree that the corruption purge will put a lot of weight on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s shoulders, because people see him as a determined man in dealing with officials that have been corrupted into inaction,” Alghannam told Arab News.
He added: “We have to wait and see, but without a doubt, the anti-corruption campaign in Saudi brings hope to the people that did not exist in the past. Such change is a golden opportunity to illustrate what the Saudi Vision can bring to the people.”
Dr. Majed bin Abdullah Al-Hedayan, an analyst, FDI expert and a legal adviser, told Arab News: “The Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources announced on Monday the hike in the price of gasoline and its derivatives in the Kingdom... They also require the consumer to re-arrange their daily life and save energy as much as possible.”
Saqib Hamza, a recruitment executive from Dammam, told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia is the country with the lowest fuel price in the world. This hike will help in optimum energy utility and help cut on excess expenditure.” The advent of public transport, work on which is in fast progress, will help cut on expenditure for daily transport needs, he added.

Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

Updated 01 October 2020

Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

  • It will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools

JEDDAH: Violations of Saudi Arabia’s anti-sexual harassment laws could be punished by “naming and shaming” following a decision by the Kingdom’s Shoura Council to approve a defamation penalty.

The council voted in favor of the penalty during its session on Wednesday after previously rejecting the move in March this year.

Council member Latifah Al-Shaalan said the proposal to include the penalty was sent by the Saudi Cabinet.

Saudi lawyer Njood Al-Qassim said she agrees with the move, adding that it will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools.

“The penalty will be imposed according to a court ruling under the supervision of judges, and according to the gravity of the crime and its impact on society,” Al-Qassim told Arab News.

“This will be a deterrent against every harasser and molester,” she said.

Al-Qassim said that legal experts are required to explain the system and its penalties to the public.

“The Public Prosecution has clarified those that may be subject to punishment for harassment crimes, including the perpetrator, instigator and accessory to the crime, the one who agreed with the harasser, malicious report provider, and the person who filed a malicious prosecution lawsuit,” she added.

“The Public Prosecution also confirmed that attempted harassment requires half the penalty prescribed for the crime,” said Al-Qassim.

In May 2018, the Shoura Council and Cabinet approved a measure criminalizing sexual harassment under which offenders will be fined up to SR100,000 ($26,660) and jailed for a maximum of two years, depending on the severity of the crime. 

In the most severe cases, where the victims are children or disabled, for example, violators will face prison terms of up to five years and/or a maximum penalty of SR300,000.

Incidents that have been reported more than once will be subject to the maximum punishment. 

The law seeks to combat harassment crimes, particularly those targeting children under 18 and people with special needs.

Witnesses are also encouraged to report violations and their identities will remain confidential.

The law defines sexual harassment as words or actions that hint at sexuality toward one person from another, or that harms the body, honor or modesty of a person in any way. It takes into account harassment in public areas, workplaces, schools, care centers, orphanages, homes and on social media.

“The legislation aims at combating the crime of harassment, preventing it, applying punishment against perpetrators and protecting the victims in order to safeguard the individual’s privacy, dignity and personal freedom which are guaranteed by Islamic law and regulations,” a statement from the Shoura Council said.

Council member Eqbal Darandari, who supports the law, said on Twitter that the defamation penalty has proven its effectiveness in crimes in which a criminal exploits a person’s trust.

“The defamation of one person is a sufficient deterrent to the rest,” she said.

Social media activist Hanan Abdullah told Arab News the decision “is a great deterrent for every harasser since some fear for their personal and family’s reputation, and won’t be deterred except through fear of defamation.”

The move will protect women from “uneducated people who believe that whoever leaves her house deserves to be attacked and harassed,” she said.

“Anyone who is unhappy with this decision should look at their behavior.”