By P K ABDUL GHAFOUR
JEDDAH, April 10 – Many Saudis have called for increasing the minimum wage in both public and private sector jobs to SR9,000 after a study conducted by King Khaled Foundation revealed that a five-member Saudi family requires SR8,926 for a decent living without depending on aid from the government and charities.
Sami bin Abdul Aziz Al-Damigh, a professor at King Saud University in Riyadh with longstanding experience in social work, conducted the survey for the charity.
He hoped the survey would help the government understand the economic difficulties being faced by its citizens and take decisions to address such problems.
Al-Damigh interviewed 10,000 families across the country and found out that a family needs SR1,390 for housing, SR1,510 for food, SR1,307 for clothing, SR201 for health care, SR248 for school expenses, SR882 for the needs of newborn babies, SR633 for transport, SR1,353 for basic services, SR905 for recreation and SR496 for other expenses.
There were on average five members, including three children, in families surveyed for the study. It found many Saudi families were finding it difficult to make ends meet.
Al-Damigh emphasized that the social insurance scheme should be based on peoples’ needs.
One Saudi, who receives a monthly salary of SR5,500, said he allocates SR1,800 to pay marriage loan, SR750 to Saudi Credit Bank, SR2,500 for semester fees and SR600 for books.
An elderly Saudi who lives in a makeshift house, for instance, said he was receiving only SR1,700 from social insurance, an insufficient amount for his family of five.
Fuad Kawther, a Saudi engineer and social worker, said the government should adopt more proactive policies to address the various problems facing citizens, including housing.
“There were calls through social media outlets to increase salaries, but there was no response,” he told Arab News. He said the payment of SR2,000 in unemployment benefits would not serve the purpose. He urged the government to learn from the successful experiences of other GCC countries to improve the condition of citizens and alleviate their suffering.
“People expect more from Saudi Arabia, being the cradle of Islam. We want the era of Caliph Omar bin Al-Khattab and Omar bin Abdul Aziz to come back. During their times, there was no poverty. We have now more wealth than those days and we should use our resources properly for the benefit of citizens. We should also apply the Zakat system strictly for poverty alleviation.” — Courtesy Arab News