Saudis, expats start New Year with structural economic reforms


By Abdul Rahman Al-Misbahi

Okaz / Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Saudis and expatriates woke up on Monday to a number of structural economic reforms which include hike in fuel prices and the levy on expatriate workers.

Twelve government and semi-government departments have been tasked with carrying out these reforms.

These authorities consist of the ministries of labor and social development, commerce and investment, transport, the General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT), Passport Department (Jawazt), Capital Market Authority (CMA), Public Transport Authority, Saudi Electricity Company, the Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority (ECRA), National Water Company and the General Organization of Social Insurance (GOSI).

Fuel price was increased effective as of midnight Sunday (Dec. 31, 2017).

Octane 91 fuel which cost 75 halalas per liter is now be available at SR1.37 per liter and 95 octane which cost 90 halalas per liter is now being sold at SR2.04 per liter.

Diesel for industries and utilities will cost SR0.378.

The price of diesel for transport remains unchanged at SR0.47. Kerosene price also remains unaffected at SR0.64.

The prices include Value Added Tax (VAT).

The electricity tariff has increased threefold.

For the first time, people in the Kingdom will start paying 5% VAT on their purchases of goods and services.

Companies and private establishments will start paying SR400 every month each for expatriate workers who are themselves paying fees of SR200 for each of their dependents.

Many expatriates, especially those with a large number of dependents, opted to send their families back home.

To assist Saudis facing the rising cost of living under these reforms, the government has initiated the Citizen’s Account under which more than 11 million citizens will receive monthly financial assistance.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has revoked its earlier decision making housing allowance equivalent to two months basic salaries.

It said this should be a negotiated between the employer and the employee.