JEDDAH, Dec 6 – The government has hiked fees for passport, vehicle registration (istimara), vehicle ownership transfer and renewal of maids’ residence permits by 50 percent. This brings the cost of these services to the same level it was six years ago.
The government has been subsidizing the fees for these services over the years. The new fee structure came into effect on Dec. 4, sabq.org reported on Thursday.
The Cabinet previously extended the concession twice over the past six years, in 2008 and 2011 to reduce the financial burden on citizens.
Several citizens, however, say the hike would place further financial pressure on them. They have called on the Cabinet to extend the subsidy for another few years because of the rising cost of living.
“I believe it is an administrative mistake,” said Badr Almotawa, a Saudi analyst, and hoped the government would extend the concession. “Under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, the government’s policies are driving to achieve a welfare state,” he told Arab News.
Almotawa believed that the government would not take a decision at this stage to increase the financial difficulties of citizens, especially when oil prices are high. “I hope that a Cabinet decision or a royal decree would be soon issued extending the fee concession to three more years,” he said. However, he said service fees in the Kingdom are much lower than in many developed countries. ARAB NEWS