Saudi Arabia has announced a series of cutbacks in its public bonuses and salaries of ministers as the kingdom struggles to cope with financial woes such as slumping oil prices and rising military expenditures.
The state-run Ekhbariya TV on Monday showed footage of an assembly of ministers and royals, including King Salman, where a list of cuts covering various grades in the civil service was read by one of the officials.
“The cabinet has decided to stop and cancel some bonuses and financial benefits,” read a line of the text on the TV.
A later report on the channel broadcast a royal decree which outlined more details of the slashes, including a cut to ministers' salaries by 20 percent and to that members of the appointed Shoura Council by 15 percent.
The cuts are the latest in a series of measures by the Saudi government to curb the kingdom’s financial perks.
Saudi Arabia, once known for its lavish public spending, has been hard hit by low oil prices and a costly military operation against its southern neighbor Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars to buy weapons from its Western allies as it continues with its air campaign against Yemenis. Riyadh’s military aggression lacks any mandate from the United Nations and has cost the life of more than 10,000 Yemeni people.
Saudi Arabia’s large population of expatriate workers has also felt the impacts of the kingdom’s budget deficit, with reports suggesting that many workers remain unpaid for months and major companies have no options but to discharge their foreign workers.
The Embassy of Pakistan in Riyadh said Monday that hundreds of its nationals who have been waiting for months to receive salaries from a Saudi construction firm would fly home without any payment.
Abdul Shakoor Shaikh, the Pakistani Embassy’s community welfare attaché, said 405 Pakistanis, who were owed wages by once-mighty Saudi Oger, would fly home from Wednesday.
The workers are among more than 6,500 Pakistani construction workers who remain unpaid in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi companies have large contingents of workers from several other countries, including India and the Philippines, who have been without salaries for months.