Access to most online Saudi government services restored for many people in debt

Saudi Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani. (SPA)
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Updated 30 January 2020

Access to most online Saudi government services restored for many people in debt

  • Those who owe relatively small amounts will only be denied access to online financial transactions
  • But those who owe more than SR1 million must pay it back within 3 months or face jail

JEDDAH: People in Saudi Arabia with legal judgments against them for failing to pay money they owe, or failing to carry out a judicial order, will no longer automatically be denied access to all online government services.

However, anyone who owes more than SR1 million and fails to pay it back within three months will be jailed.

Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani said the changes mean that the suspension of e-government access will be limited to services that involve financial transactions. Previously, it also prevented people in debt from using other online government services, such as renewing a driving license, passport, car license or ID card.

Yousef Al-Husaiky, a lawyer in Jeddah, said that he was surprised by the decision to lift the suspension of e-government services for those in debt, because before it was introduced, creditors often faced a long wait before getting their money back.

“It was a big problem for creditors until the service suspension came,” he said. “It forced debtors to implement court orders.

“That was a key factor in helping creditors get their money back. Suspending the electronic services of debtors who failed to fulfill their obligations was a good decision and has helped many people (reclaim what they were owed). That law does not exist in any other judiciary system.”

However, he added that the ministry would not have changed the law unless there was a good reason to do so.

“I think the main reason behind the decision was the fact that the ministry does not want the family of a debtor to suffer,” he said.

“There will always be reviews of laws to make sure that the public is receiving fair and equal treatment. What is happening in the Ministry of Justice is a true revolution that aims to meet the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030.”

However, some people fear that creditors will suffer as a result of the changes.

“The majority of people are simple and their debts rarely exceed one million,” said schoolteacher Salah Al-Zahrani. “That means debtors can now delay paying back creditors, which is the thing that puts the latter in trouble.”

Oil coup for Saudi Arabia as output cuts are extended

Updated 46 min 20 sec ago

Oil coup for Saudi Arabia as output cuts are extended

  • ‘Compliance is vital,’ Prince Abdul Aziz says

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia pulled off a coup in the world of oil diplomacy on Saturday with an agreement to extend the historic output cuts credited with pulling energy markets out of chaos.

At a virtual meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producersled by Russia, 23 exporters agreed to roll over the record-breaking cuts until the end of July, with a monthly option to renew the agreement after that.

The deal has strict provisions against producers who fail to comply. Some countries, notably Iraq and Nigeria, have been accused of ignoring the agreed caps on crude production.

“Effective compliance is vital if we are to secure the hard-won stability in global oil markets and restore confidence in the unity and effectiveness of the OPEC+ group,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Saudi Energy Minister. “This stability and positive market sentiment will bring its own rewards.”

OPEC+ agreed unanimously that countries that have fallen short of full compliance since May 1 will make up that shortfall over the summer months and will adhere to production limits in the future.

Compliance will be assessed at monthly ministerial monitoring meetings until the end of the year. “We must be vigilant. Each of the 23 countries represented here must be on guard for any signs of backsliding from their commitments,” Prince Abdul Aziz said.

“All OPEC+ partners must deliver on their pledges for the collective pledges to be sustained. Each country has to adhere to its commitment to restrain production along the agreed guidelines.”

The minister referred to the recent “low point” when American crude briefly traded below zero, but said the OPEC+ deal, bolstered by extra voluntary cuts from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, had helped the global market over the worst.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, has more than doubled in price since the cuts took effect. “Demand is returning as big oil-consuming economies emerge from pandemic lockdown,” Prince Abdul Aziz said. “Through our commitment to a proactive policy, within a cohesive and collective framework, we are restoring confidence and stability to global oil markets. Today, we have grounds to be cautiously optimistic about the future.”

Energy experts welcomed the deal, but echoed the minister’s caution. “This is an important success for OPEC+. It shows ability to deliver, willingness to address discipline, and coherence in the approach,” saidChristof Ruehl of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

“The problem is that the more OPEC+ succeeds, the easier it becomes for private producers to enjoy the fruits of its labor.”