Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz today chaired the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, which was briefed by Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on his tour of the Eastern Province for the inauguration of a number of industrial, health, investment and development projects, and on his short visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he spoke with UAE President Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, emphasizing deep and strong relations between the two countries and praising the President's wisdom and insight. The cabinet was then briefed on the talks held by the King and the Crown Prince with visiting Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohammed on bilateral cooperation, and on the international situation, particularly issues of concern to Muslims, and ways of strengthening relations among Islamic countries.
Turning to domestic issues, the cabinet passed a number of resolutions. Among them was a resolution concerning local occurrences of access to the Internet via satellite dishes in contravention of the cabinet decision issued in March 1997 [24/10/1417 H], to the effect that enough lines be made available to enable legal access to Internet services, that rates for their use be lowered, and the cost to end-users decreased. The cabinet stressed that Internet users and providers in the Kingdom should abide by the 1997 telecommunications system regulations, and emphasized that the Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC) should track down violations, including those by satellite service providers and public recreation facilities, as well as by companies, establishments and individuals. STC and the King Abdulaziz City for Sciences and Technology (KACST) are advised to coordinate with each other, and to take the necessary measures to stop breaches and impose penalties, including issuing warnings and revoking licenses. Within two years from the date this resolution comes into effect, STC and KACST are requested to report to the cabinet on its outcome and submit suggestions for better performance.
The cabinet also passed a resolution that the Cooperative Health Insurance Act be enforced for Saudi citizens working in the private sector, irrespective of salary. The enforcement will be in phases, the timing of which is to be determined by the Cooperative Health Insurance Council, provided that the first phase begins two years following the practical application of the system for non-Saudis, with a possible extension of a third year. According to the Act, families of beneficiaries covered by this service are allowed to opt for medical treatment at government health facilities provided expenses are covered by the cooperative insurance companies.