Riyadh Sacks Water Minister After Complaints Over Tariffs

Riyadh Sacks Water Minister After Complaints Over TariffsRiyadh Sacks Water Minister After Complaints Over Tariffs

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman fired the water and electricity minister following public complaints over a surge in prices less than six months after the government cut utility subsidies.

Agriculture Minister Abdel Rahman al-Fadhli will take over the water and electricity post from Abdullah al-Hasin, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a royal decree, Bloomberg reported.

Saudis turned to social media to express their anger after the increase in prices of water and the Consumer Protection Association asked the government to reevaluate the decision.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg in an interview this month that the ministry’s implementation of the new water tariff was “unsatisfactory”.

The government announced cuts in utility and gasoline subsidies in December, as it tried to rein in spending after a steep drop in oil prices. Including future reductions, authorities expect the restructuring to generate $30 billion a year by 2020, part of a broader plan to raise non-oil revenues by $100 billion to reduce the country’s reliance on crude exports.

Raising prices poses a challenge to Persian Gulf Arab monarchies. A survey of young Arabs found that more than 90% of those questioned in Qatar, Oman and Bahrain want subsidies to continue, while 86% agreed in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter.

Prince Mohammed, the king’s son and second-in-line to the throne, is leading the biggest shakeup of the economy since Saudi Arabia’s founding after oil prices fell from the end of 2014. The kingdom will announce its vision for the future in the post-oil era on April 25.