Saudi Arabia Plans 80% Increase in Fuel Prices
Islam Times - The Saudi regime is planning domestic prices for gasoline and jet fuel by around 80% this year in a sign of worsening economic situation in the Persian Gulf monarchy.
The government is planning to raise prices to be roughly in line with varying international prices, Bloomberg reported, saying the decision could take effect as early as November.
By current prices, this could result of an increase of 80% for octane-91 grade gas, from 0.75 riyals per liter to 1.35 riyals per liter — although this is still only about 26p. Bloomberg said the government is planning to delay increases in other energy prices until 2018.
Saudi Arabia is the world's biggest oil exporter, but has been forced to diversify its economy away from oil, as global prices have fallen and oil's long-term future looks uncertain.
According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund the Saudi economy is projected to pick up to 1.7 percent in 2017, but overall real GDP growth is expected to be close to zero as oil GDP declines.
The Saudi-led—and US-backed—war in Yemen which started on March 2015 has had a negative impact on the kingdom's economy and the war has also failed to achieve any of the aims set by Riyadh.
The recently imposed Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is facing major challenges steering the economic while the kingdom is stuck in the Yemen quagmire. An increase in fuel prices is expected to trigger further dissent as the September 15th Movement gains more support in the country.
The movement, which had organized gatherings last Friday, says it aims to pressurize authorities to address a range of issues including poverty, youth unemployment, housing crisis, increasing women's rights and releasing political prisoners. In a bid to quell the dissent, last week Saudi authorities detained more than 30 people, roughly half of them clerics critical to the regime.
Unconfirmed reports say Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is moving to consolidate power ahead of his expected accession to the throne.
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