Saudi Arabia's Council of Ministers’ decision on Monday to slash the salaries and fringe benefits of ministers and Shoura Council members has brought to light a number of allowances about which many people had no idea.
Many Saudis did not know that there were special allowances and provisions for “appearance,” “difficult tasks” and “risky missions.”
The cuts covered as many as 51 allowances and fringe benefits which were paid to ministers and senior government officials.
“I never knew that cashiers in ministries and government departments were being paid ‘honesty’ allowance,” an astonished Saudi citizen told Al-Hayat Arabic daily.
“I was astounded that typists were being paid an allowance for typing which was their job for which they were getting salaries,” he said.
The salaries of ministers were cut by about 20 percent, reducing the monthly emolument from SR51,750 to SR41,400. The remunerations of Shoura Council members, which were cut by 15 percent, came down to SR22,483 from SR26,450.
There are 143 ministers and senior officials in ministers rank.
Shoura Council members welcomed the decision, saying that the reduction of their emoluments was in line with the current world economic conditions.
“The sacrifices for the homeland are not measured by money but by souls. We are ready to sacrifice even our lives not just a few riyals,” said Fahd Bin Juma, a Shoura member.
He urged Saudi families to reduce their expenses.
Welcoming the decision, Ahmed Al-Mofreh, another Shoura member, said, “We are facing challenges which require decisiveness and determination. Every citizen should whole heartedly support these decisions.”
Mohammed Al-Naji, another member, said the cuts targeted high income people and did not affect ordinary citizens.
A number of economists expect the decision to contribute to the rationalization of family spending by between 20 and 30 percent. They also expect the retail and services sector sales to go down by between 25 and 30 percent.
Prices of fruits and vegetables have already started to go down, according to Jabbar Al-Bishi, deputy chairman of the committee of vegetables and fruits at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).
“The decisions will have a positive effect on the fruits and vegetable market and the drop in the prices is expected to continue,” he said.