Price Rises Drive Expatriates out of Saudi Arabia

Posted on March 24, 2008

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 Arab News

JEDDAH, 23 March 2008 — Prices of essential commodities and house rents have increased by 30 to 50 percent, prompting Saudis and expatriates to call for government intervention to curb the unprecedented phenomenon and for increasing their salaries to cope with the situation.

“The government should stop the monopoly of big companies that supply essential commodities,” Dr. Abdul Ilah Saaty of King Abdul Aziz University told Arab News. “Salaries must be increased further. The five-percent increase in salary is nothing compared to the price hike.”

Saaty urged the government to re-introduce subsidies for medicines, especially after the huge increase in medicine prices. The professor objected to cutting interest rates, saying it would push up inflation.

The Council of Ministers adopted a 17-point program on Jan. 28 in order to keep prices under control. It also increased the subsidies for rice, barley and baby milk. But people have not yet felt the effect of these measures.

“What we are lacking is a strict monitoring regime,” said Saaty, who is vice dean of the Community College. Growing prices have increased the worries of citizens, he said and called for new regulations to cut down prices.

“There is a considerable increase in commodity prices, especially foodstuffs. People receiving low salaries will definitely find it difficult to manage. The cost of living has doubled,” said Raman Madhu, assistant manager for logistics in a Jeddah-based company.

Increases in prices and house rents have forced many expatriate workers to leave the Kingdom because they could not make both ends meet. Most of them said they were unable to make any savings and that thus there was no point in staying in the Kingdom. [more]

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