A Saudi money changer displays Saudi Riyal banknotes at a currency exchange shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
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Saudi authorities said they'll spend billions of riyals to help citizens offset the impact of a value-added tax and a surge in gasoline and utility prices, a move that will help ease public discontent while highlighting the kingdom's struggle to overhaul its economy. King Salman, in a series of royal orders early Saturday, restored an annual pay raise for Saudi civil servants, suspended as part of attempts to rein in a hefty public-sector wage bill. He ordered a 5,000-riyal ($1,333) bonus for soldiers fighting in Yemen and granted Saudis working for the state an extra 1,000 riyals a month as a "cost of living" allowance for a year. The government will also pay part of the newly introduced VAT. Two-thirds of Saudi employees work in the public sector.The index was little changed in 2017, compared with a 34-percent gain for the MSCI Emerging Market Index, and individual Saudi investors have been net sellers for more than 80 weeks.
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