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Saudi Arabia: $933m to cover salaries of private sector staff during COVID-19

July 6, 2020 at 12:03 pm

Employees of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease operations room of the Saudi Red Crescent (SRC) are seen while on duty in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on April 6, 2020. [FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia has set aside 3.5 billion riyals ($933 million) to support 480,000 of its citizens working in the private sector and who are struggling as a result of uncertainty stemming from the coronavirus.

The Governor of the General Organisation for Social Insurance (GOSI), Sulaiman Al-Gwaiz, said in a statement yesterday that the initiative to support workers in the private sector comes within government initiatives to mitigate the financial and economic burdens caused by the pandemic.

Al-Gwaiz added: “More than 480,000 participants in 90,000 establishments benefited from the initiative, called ‘SANED” (support) through which they were provided with more than 3.5 billion riyals.  The initiative aims to support workers during the previous period, which lasted three months.”

READ: Coronavirus cases rising in Saudi Arabia, UAE after curfews lifted

Since April, the Saudi government has been covering the cost of 60 per cent of private-sector employees’ salaries in an effort to ensure they are not made redundant as a result of the economic slump caused by global closures to tackle the coronavirus.

The unemployment rate among Saudis reached 12 per cent at the end of last year, according to the government General Authority for Statistics.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, is currently suffering from a decline in its financial revenues as oil prices fell due to the repercussions of COVID-19 which led to a fall in demand and thus prices.

In measures taken to raise state income, the kingdom tripled its Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 15 per cent starting this month, and last month suspended a cost of living allowance that was being paid to citizens.