Saudi government workers will be paid according to the Gregorian calendar instead of the Islamic Hijri calendar, making the working month longer as part of cost-cutting measures.
The Cabinet took the decision as part of major austerity measures, including 20 percent salary cut of ministers and a moratorium on increment to government staff for the new Hijri year.
The reports said the latest austerity measure took effect on October 1.
“Saudi ministries and government agencies began working with the Gregorian calendar on Saturday,” The New Arab‘s Saudi Arabia correspondent, Khaled al-Shayea, reported.
According to the Cabinet decision, the salaries and allowances will be calculated on the basis of the fiscal year approved by the state in line with the Royal decree issued 30 years ago, on Rabi Al-Thani 12, 1407.
The Hijri calendar consists of 12 months of 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon, meaning the Islamic year is several days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, which is widely used in the world.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is cutting government spending and re-orienting its economy after a collapse over the past two years of the global oil price which provided most of its revenue.
“Experts have estimated that Saudi Arabia will generate around $34 billion each year in revenues from the new visa prices and the calendar change,” Shayea said.
Last week, the cabinet also cut by 20 percent the salaries of ministers and froze the wages of lower-ranked civil servants.
The government employees will lose 11 days of payment under the revised mechanism. The Hijri calendar is made up of 12 months of 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon, and the year is usually 354 days, 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar.
Almost twice as many Saudis are employed in the bloated public sector — where hours are shorter and leave longer — than in private firms.