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Iran Press TV

Saudi king dismisses utilities minister over price hikes

Iran Press TV

Sun Apr 24, 2016 12:22PM

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has dismissed the kingdom's water and electricity minister amid growing anger over unpopular increases in the utilities' prices.

King Salman issued a decree on Saturday, sacking Abdullah al-Hussayen, the official SPA news agency reported.

The Saudi king appointed Agriculture Minister Abdel Rahman al-Fadli as the acting minister for water and electricity.

The kingdom has reduced subsidies on water, electricity and fuel as part of the reforms adopted last December to cope with low oil prices and the ensuing budget deficit.

Last month, al-Hussayen reportedly told people angry at high water bills to get permission to dig their own wells.

Earlier this month, the Arab News Daily said that the Shura Council was "unconvinced" when its members criticized Hussayen for the price hikes.

Also in December, the Finance Ministry said in a statement that the country would be running a budget deficit of $87 billion in 2016, which will be its third annual shortfall in a row.

Riyadh is also projecting spending next year at 840 billion riyals ($224 billion), the statement added.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is responsible for the economic reforms, is expected to announce plans on Monday for diversifying the kingdom's economy that depends on oil for 70 percent of state revenues.

He, however, said earlier this month that the ministry's new water tariff was not satisfactory. He added, "Now, we are working diligently on reforms within the water ministry so that things will be in accordance with the agreed plan."

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