Saudi government criticised over low wages

Under a bold article headed “splash part of the SR trillion on them”, a prominent Saudi newspaper writer has criticised the Gulf kingdom’s government over its low wages to citizens, saying the average monthly income is only around SR1,500 while the country is expected to earn SR1,500 billion this year.

Khalaf Al Harbi, a columnist in the mass circulation Saudi Arabic language daily 'Okaz', cited forecasts by a local financial institution showing Saudi Arabia’s oil income will likely climb to a record high of SR1.13trn ($305bn) in 2011 as a result of strong crude prices and higher output by the kingdom.

The figures also showed non-oil income could reach SR132bn and this will combined with the oil export income and other revenue to boost Saudi Arabia’s total earnings this year to an all time high of SR1,500bn ($460bn).

“Of course we are delighted by this massive wealth bestowed by God the Almighty on our good country and we do hope that this wealth will be reflected on the normal Saudi citizen,” Harbi said.

“It is not acceptable that the normal Saudi’s income is only around SR1,500 per month while his country is earning SR1,500bn…we know that the current budget focuses on building the man but we also know that this should can not be done if the citizens suffer from a shortage in the basic needs of their families…our people will not benefit from education and training if they are haunted by the ghost of poverty and unemployment.”

Harbi said eliminating poverty and joblessness among Saudis must top government priorities in order to realize all development plans.

He said massive development projects carried out by the government and those planned remain “pointless and aimless” without tackling those social problems.

“Our Monarch has given much interest to the poor in our country and it is time to increase social aid and pensions for our citizens against the backdrop of this financial euphoria being witnessed by the country,” he said.

“Oh, finance ministry men…think of the poor people in our country…splash part of the SR1trn on them as much as you can so God the Almighty will bless you all and bestow SR20trn upon our country.”

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