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Saudi to pay citizens’ water bills, companies’ late fees for visa renewal

Saudi to pay citizens’ water bills, companies’ late fees for visa renewal

Companies in the contracting sector have been hit particularly hard by delayed government payments

Saudi Arabia will pay for the cost of “rational consumption of water” to beneficiaries of its social security programme and fees for the late renewal of workers’ visas if companies are hit by government payment delays, Saudi Press Agency said on Tuesday.

The state news agency said the water payments, approved during a cabinet meeting, would be monthly and according to procedures used to disburse electricity bills.

The citizen’s account social security programme, designed to protect citizens from austerity measures, made its first payment in December.

Most citizens are applicable for the roughly $100-$250 monthly payment it provides based on family income. The size of the additional allowance for water consumption was not specified.

Read: Saudi makes first $533m payment to social support scheme

King Salman also ordered the introduction of a monthly payment of SAR1,000 ($267) to state employees in January to compensate for the introduction of a 5 per cent value added tax and hike in fuel and electricity prices.

Read: Saudi king orders new payments to offset rising living costs

Other measures approved by the cabinet on Tuesday included the payment of companies’ fines for the late renewal of workers’ residency visas if it is determined the delay was due to late contract payments by the government, the news agency said.

“The cabinet decided that the government shall bear the fine imposed on the employer if it was proved that the delay in renewing the worker’s residence permit was due to the government’s delay in paying the employer’s dues and the worker was working on the same project,” according to the statement.

The Ministry of Finance has been authorised to carry out the related procedures.

Reports in May indicated contractors in the kingdom were still struggling to be paid on time by the government after severe delays in 2015 and 2016.

Read: Saudi contractors still struggling with government payments delays

Companies including Saudi Binladin and Saudi Oger laid off tens of thousands of workers during the 2015-2016 period after being unable to pay their salaries for months due to government payment delays.

Read: Saudi Binladin receives $3bn loan from government

The Finance Ministry launched an electronic system to monitor payments in January in order to rectify the issue.

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