Saudi Arabia King Calls Economic Reforms Necessary but Painful

On Wednesday, King Salman admitted that his kingdom was enduring some economic reforms he called painful, but indicated they were all necessary in order to protect the country from any worse problems.

The steep decline in the price of oil since June of 2014 pushed the energy-rich Arab states in the Gulf to pull back on lavish spending.

Saudi Arabia accumulated a new record for a budget deficit of close to $100 billion in 2015, which forced the country to find savings in new places and ways to increase revenue.

The state has looked to deal with the changes through a number of different measures to help restructure our economy, said Salman to the Shura Council. The measure will be painful during the short term but will in the end, protect the country’s economy from any worse problems, the King added.

Circumstances of a similar natured have taken place prior to this, forcing the country to cut expenses, but it was able to emerge from those with a solid economy and increasing, continuous growth, read a statement the King prepared.

In one drastic step taken to save more money, the king cut the salaries of all ministers and members of the Shura Council by 20% and 15% during September. He also scaled back the financial perks for employees in the public sector.

During October, the country changed its finance minister as it undertook a dramatic economic restructuring. In May, the oil minister was replaced as well as part of an overhaul of the government.

Salman said that the country see security of Yemen, its neighbor, as part of its own security and sent a warning to Iran its regional rival not to meddle in the country.

The King said Saudi Arabia would not accept any interference of the internal affairs or anything that will affect the legitimacy of the government that targets the security of Saudi Arabia and the overall region in general, without saying Iran by name.

Saudi Arabia was the lead of a military offensive that started in 2015 alongside many Arab and Gulf countries to help reinstate the president of Yemen after the Houthi rebels had made him flee abroad.

Saudi Arabia claims Iran is attempting to expand its Shia influence across Arab countries like Yemen and Syria. Saudi Arabia is Sunni dominated. Tehran has strongly denied that charge.

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