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The government was trying to trim a wage bill that eats up more than half its budget – an outlandish share even by Gulf standards.Government is the employer of first resort – even when it has nothing much for its employees to do.Now, after years of lower crude prices, and increasingly aware the oil will run out one day, Gulf rulers are seeking to repair public finances.Last year, Saudi Arabia spent an estimated 440 billion riyals ($117 billion) on wages, nearly half of its total budget expenditure of 926 billion riyals, according to government data.One employee at a Saudi ministry, who asked not to be identified by name, said her boss has been on an unofficial three-day week for years, and didn't change that habit even when swiping-in was mandated.Still, lower-paid private jobs are mostly taken by foreigners.Malik calculates that 466,000 expat jobs were cut in Saudi Arabia last year, while only 103,000 Saudi citizens got hired.McKinsey & Co., which has helped draft Saudi economic plans, estimated that $4 trillion of investment would be required to create 6 million jobs by 2030 .The Finance Ministry had about 700 employees when he joined in 1987 .
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