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Wed 30 Dec 2015 12:38 PM

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Only 13% of Saudi households to pay more for electricity, water – minister

Water and Electricity Minister says higher charges will only affect wealthier sections of Saudi society

Only 13% of Saudi households to pay more for electricity, water – minister
Saudi Minister of Water and Electricity Abdullah al-Hussayen. (Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia’s water and electricity minister has moved to calm speculation over higher utility charges for the kingdom’s residents.

In its budget statement, announced earlier this week, the Finance Ministry said it would adjust subsidies for water, electricity and petroleum products over five years. That is a politically sensitive step since the kingdom has traditionally kept domestic prices at some of the lowest levels in the world as a social welfare measure.

Changes will aim to make energy use more efficient and conserve natural resources, while minimising the negative effects on lower- and middle-income Saudis, the ministry said.

Minutes later, state news agency SPA said the government had raised domestic fuel, water and electricity prices. The price of 95 octane gasoline climbed to 0.90 riyal ($0.24) per litre from 0.60 riyal - though it remained very low by global standards.

Speaking to local media on Monday, Water and Electricity Minister Abdullah Al Hussayen said that higher bills would not affect poorer parts of Saudi society.

“The new tariffs are aimed at those segments of society who extensively consume water and electricity,” he said, according to Arab News.

“For example, 250 litres of water consumption per day will cost SR92 [$25] per month with the new tariff, and this is reasonable. We sincerely hope that with the new prices, people will start conserving water,” he said.

Al Hussayen also said that only 13 percent of bills issued this year would be affected by the new tariffs.

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