Saudi Arabia allocates more than $5 billion to protect citizens from rising inflation

Half of the money will go to social insurance beneficiaries and people registered in the Citizen Account Programme

People wearing protective face masks and gloves shop at a supermarket, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
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Saudi Arabia has allocated 20 billion riyals ($5.33 billion) to dampen the effects of rising prices on citizens, according to a royal decree issued by King Salman.

Half of the money will go to social insurance beneficiaries and people registered with the Citizen Account Programme, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

“A royal decree was issued approving the allocation of 20bn riyals as financial support to confront the repercussions of rising prices globally, including 10.4bn riyals to be distributed as direct cash transfers to support social security beneficiaries, the Citizen Account Programme and the Small Livestock Breeders' Support Programme,” the SPA reported.

The rest of the money will be used to increase strategic stocks of basic commodities and ensure their supply.

A total of $532 million will also be distributed as an additional one-time pension payment to social security beneficiaries during the 2022 fiscal year.

After the issuance of the royal decree, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke of the importance of protecting the kingdom's most vulnerable citizens from rising costs.

He made the remarks during a Council of Economic and Development Affairs meeting at Al Salam Palace in Jeddah on Monday.

Saudi Arabia also confirmed on the same day that it would resume registrations for the Citizen Account Programme in line with previously announced regulations.

The programme was set up in 2017 to provide cash transfers to poor and middle-income Saudis affected by austerity measures being introduced by the kingdom, which include petrol and electricity tariff increases, and higher VAT on food and beverage items.

The Gulf country tripled its rate of VAT to 15 per cent in July 2020 to offset the impact of lower oil revenue on state finances.

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