Saudi government drops Islamic calendar
Riyadh - The Hijri calendar has become the latest casualty of Saudi Arabia’s cost-cutting measures. From the beginning of October — and for the first time — Riyadh will pay government workers according to the Gregorian calendar, making the average working month for its employees longer and in line with the private sector.
According to the Jeddah-based Saudi Gazette, the decision by the Saudi Council of Ministers was announced September 26th and “government employees will lose 11 days of payment under the revised mechanism”. The Hijri calendar — used by many Muslims countries to determine Islamic holidays — is lunar-based and consists of 12 months of 29 or 30 days and is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar.
The calendar change came during the same cabinet session that saw the kingdom slash ministerial salaries by 20% and curtail allowances and bonuses for all government employees.
Approximately 70% of Saudi employees work in government jobs. Government employees’ salaries and allowances accounted for 45% of government spending in 2015. Working hours in the civil service are shorter and holidays longer than in the private sector.
In April, Saudi Arabia unveiled its Vision 2030 plan, an ambitious diversification package of economic and social policies designed to reduce the country’s dependence on oil. The plan also aims to improve the transparency and efficiency of governmental bodies and empower the private sector.