Saudi monarch approves more private sector coronavirus crisis aid

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has approved an additional package of measures to help the private sector deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, its finance minister said.

The package includes 50 billion riyals ($266 million) to accelerate payment of private sector dues, provide liquidity to several sectors and cover wages of those working in passenger transport, Mohammed Al Jadaan said on Wednesday.

Another 47bn riyals has been set aside for the health sector, to be disbursed as needed to build capacity, he added.

In March, Saudi Arabia allocated 70bn riyals to support businesses and postponed some government fees and taxes. It said 9bn riyals would be disbursed to cover part of the wages of private sector workers to deter layoffs.

The kingdom reported 493 more cases of the novel coronavirus and six deaths on Wednesday to take its total to 5,862 with 79 deaths.

The number of infections in the region has risen steadily despite containment measures taken by several states including suspending passenger flights, imposing curfews and closing most public venues. The count in the six countries has surpassed 18,000 with some 128 deaths.

Several Gulf states have said there has been a growing number of infections among low income foreign workers who live in overcrowded housing. Millions of migrant workers, many from Asia, account for the bulk of the Gulf's labour force.

Saudi Arabia's education ministry said on Wednesday that more than 3,400 shuttered schools in the kingdom would be used to rehouse migrant workers from cramped accommodation.




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