Two senior Saudi officials have warned that the kingdom could go bankrupt in three years unless serious cuts are implemented to trim the public sector which they have described as inefficient and overstretched.
Minister of Civil Service Khaled Al-Araj told a live TV debate that civil servants in the kingdom barely put in one hour a day in the office. The civil servants, he added, also have little incentive to work.
The kingdom’s public sector, which employs more than 70 percent of the workforce, is extremely unproductive and its employees have a poor work ethics, Al-Araj was quoted as saying by media.
The system is so badly run that wages are paid to government employees even if they had left their jobs, the UK’s The Times newspaper quoted him as saying in a report that was also carried by the arabianbusiness.com.
Al-Araj warned that the poor performance of the public sector could soon blow out of proportion.
“It directly and negatively affects governmental institutions,” he was quoted as saying by the media.
Saudi Arabia is struggling with falling revenues – what has been caused by low oil prices. The kingdom’s deficit was nearly $100 billion last year.
Saudi Arabia’s deputy economy minister Muhammad al-Tuwaijri, speaking during the same TV debate, also warned that government's finances will come under severe pressure unless austerity measures are enforced.
“If oil prices keep declining and the Saudi government does not take action with economic and austerity measures . . . bankruptcy in the kingdom is inevitable within three to four years,” he said.
Last month, Saudi Arabia announced it would cut the salaries of cabinet ministers by 20 percent. It also said that it would scale back financial perks for state employees. Both plans, official said, were part of austerity measures to plug the kingdom’s widening budget deficit.