Manama: Annual bonuses and allowances for civil servants and military personnel in Saudi Arabia will start with the new fiscal year on January 1, 2019, the minister of civil services has said.

The announcement made by Sulaiman Al Hamdan on Monday puts an end to speculations in the kingdom on whether the perks will be tied to the Hijri or Gregorian calendars.

Bonuses are added annually to the salaries of public personnel based on their degrees until they retire. They vary between SR135 for employees in the first grade to SR865 to those who are in the 15th grade.

In 2016, the bonuses were cut under austerity measures in a bid to overhaul the public sector and bolster economic growth. Ministers’ salaries were cut by 20 per cent.

In April last year, the bonuses and allowances were restored as the economic situation improved.

However, in May this year, an amendment to the civil service laws linked incentives, mainly the annual bonus and promotions, to job performance, with the aim of “creating competition among employees and improving the efficiency of expenditure”.

The new system was scheduled to be applied next year for the first time.

However, on Tuesday, King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz issued a royal decree restoring the old system of bonus and allowances for civil servants and military personnel.

Under the system, there is no relation between the bonuses and the employees’ job performances.

“The amendments introduced by the Civil Service last year and which include an article to improve performances will not be applied for the time being,” Sulaiman Al Hamdan, Minister of Civil Services, said.

“It will be applied once all the articles of the statute are completed,” he said.

Around 1.5 million people, mainly Saudi citizens, work in the public sector, with the education and health ministries leading in the number of employees.