Saudi finance minister sacked as part of cabinet reshuffle

Saudi finance minister sacked as part of cabinet reshuffle
Dr. Ibrahim Assaf was relieved from his position as Minister of Finance on Monday and appointed as the new Minister of State in the kingdom's latest reshuffle.
2 min read
01 November, 2016
Assaf served as Minister of Finance since 1995 [AFP]

Saudi's finance minister was sacked from his post on Monday and appointed as Minister of State, as the kingdom continues to undergo a major economic restructuring because of lower oil revenues.

Veteran Dr. Ibrahim al-Assaf "has been removed from his position," a royal decree stated, one of a series of orders from King Salman that were published by the official SPA news agency.

But just minutes later, a new order confirmed Assaf would instead be appointed "as Minister of State and Member of the Cabinet"

Assaf was replaced by Mohammed Aljadaan, head of the Capital Market Authority which regulates the stock market, the decree confirmed.

Rumours surrounding the latest move surfaced weeks ago when a foreign diplomat told AFP there was talk of changing the finance minister.

Assaf, who had been in the post since 1995, is one of the kingdom's longest serving ministers and has contributed to the stability of the economic situation despite the collapse of oil prices.

A series of other decrees also published on Monday relieved the kingdom's Head of Public Transport of his duties and appointed Dr. Awad Asmari as director of Shaqra University as well as Dr. Hatem Marzouki who was installed as the new director of the Islamic University.

Since 2014 global oil prices have collapsed by more than half, leaving Saudi Arabia with a record deficit last year.

The fall in the kingdom's main source of revenue led to unprecedented subsidy cuts and curbs on government spending - despite Riyadh taking a lead role in the war in Yemen, which has been reported to cost hundreds of millions of dollars a month.

In April, the king's son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, announced the wide-ranging Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy. The effort also seeks a streamlined, more accountable administration.

Vision 2030 aims to boost private sector employment, cutting the government payroll to 40 percent of the budget from 45 percent by 2020.

But frontline soldiers on the southern border with Yemen will be exempt from a ruling not to grant the military an annual bonus.