RIYADH: The Kingdom has deposited SR100 billion ($26.6 billion) into the accounts of beneficiaries of its Citizen Account Program since its establishment in 2017, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The welfare program is a national scheme aimed at protecting low-income Saudi households from the direct, indirect and expected impacts of the economic reforms taking place in the Kingdom through monthly cash transfers into their accounts. The program was launched following the structural reforms and removal and reduction of subsidies that accompanied the Saudi Vision 2030 plan.
More than SR1.9 billion was paid out in August, its 45th batch, while SR10.5 million in arrears was paid, SPA said, citing program spokesman Sultan Al-Qahtani.
“The program is essential to the success of the transformation process in the Saudi economy to help mitigate the negative impacts on Saudi citizens, but I don’t think it’s been delivering the needed results,” Razeen Capital CEO Mohamed Alsuwayed told Arab News.
The program’s success was not possible without the king’s intervention on several occasions to provide additional allowances to the public, he said. “Also, the IMF is still emphasizing in its periodic assessments that Saudi should increase its social spending to ease the negative impact of the economic transformation on the citizens.”
Saudi expenditures in the first half of 2021 decreased by 1 percent from the first half of the previous year, according to the quarterly budget report, with total expenditure of SR465 billion in H1 2021 down from SR469 billion in H1 2020.
Expenditure on social benefits rose by 51 percent as the largest rise from H1 2020, reaching SR42 billion for H1 2021. Grants increased by 36 percent in H1 2021.
Subsidy spending for H1 2021 also decreased by 28 percent, followed by other expenditures, with a decrease of 10 percent, and finally in compensation to employees, with a decrease of 1 percent.