Riyadh: Shortly before his return to Riyadh from a three-month treatment and convalescing trip, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz issued several orders aimed at boosting monetary outlays for housing, social security services and university education for members of needy families.
The first order grants Saudi Riyal 40 billion (Dh39.2 billion) to support the capital of the Kingdom's Real Estate Development Fund to enable it to finalise all pending loan applications and accelerate new loans. The order also stipulates granting a waiver to all previously unpaid housing loans.
Another order allocates SR1 billion for raising the maximum number of members of a family covered by social security from eight to 15. The decision also grants another SR3.5 billion for supporting social security programmes.
This aims at increasing allocations for people with special needs, and boosting the capacity of rehabilitation centres and medical services provided to them.
The Saudi monarch has also allocated SR1.2 billion for increasing the number of beneficiaries from social development funds and establishing vocational training programmes for women.
Among other Royal Orders, broadcast on Saudi TV on Wednesday, the Saudi Housing Commission was supported with SR15 billion. Government employees will continue to receive a 15 per cent allowance for the high cost of living.
King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz also decided to grant SR100 million in support of co-operative societies and increase the assistance provided to charitable societies by 50 per cent.
A total of SR476 million is to be allocated annually for supporting the Ministry of Education's needy
students' programmes. This includes providing clothing, school bags and other essentials. Saudi students studying abroad at their own expenses will be covered by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Overseas Scholarship Programme.
Giving more attention to needy and poor families, the King ordered some university seats to be reserved for students from these families. Conditions for admission for such students are to be eased and they are to be exempted from pre-admission fees and some other expenses. The students will also be given priority in campus housing and temporary jobs at the universities.
The decisions, which are said to have surpassed all expectations of the Saudi people, also include freeing large numbers of prisoners convicted of public rights crimes.
Moreover, the decisions grant SR10 million for every literary club in the Kingdom.
In statements to Gulf News, foreign diplomats said the King's new package was the biggest direct financial support to be given to the people in the modern history of Saudi Arabia.