Yesterday evening, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz presided over the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, which dealt with a number of domestic issues pertaining to preparations of the ministries and various governmental sectors for the general State budget for the year 1421-1422 H . The cabinet was briefed by the ministers concerned on the projects proposed for the second year of the Seventh Five-Year Development Plan (2000-2004), and by the Minister of Finance and National Economy on the features of the budget and indicators of the country's welfare that will further strengthen its steady development and progress in all vital fields.
King Fahd declared that priority in financial appropriations is to be given to services directly related to the needs of the citizens and that care should be accorded to everything that is related to them in their capacity as the pillar and major support of development. He went on to stress that the Government is continuing to render services and is working to enhance and upgrade them to the best levels in the interests of the citizens and their homeland.
Turning to the Arab world, King Fahd reviewed the tragic situation of the Palestinian people as a result of Israel's escalating aggression, stressing the need for the international community to bring to an end Palestinian bloodshed by pressuring Israel to comply with all international resolutions and relevant bilateral agreements that ensure the Palestinians' right to self determination and the establishment of an independent state with Al-Quds as its capital.
In domestic affairs, the cabinet passed a number of resolutions.
First, after review of a decision of the Higher Economic Council concerning university students' stipends, the cabinet resolved the following:
1) That the system of student stipends in the higher education sector be rationalized so that no stipend is to be disbursed in the following cases:
a) students who have exceeded the regular period of time for completion of studies;
b) students who have submitted excuses for not pursuing studies, or who have requested postponement of studies;
c) all students during summer vacations, with the exception of those who are registered in a summer semester;
d) students who have received academic warnings.
2) That a fund be set up for higher education at university level.
3) That student stipends continue in future years to be approved in university budgets.
4) That this resolution and the regulations attached to it be published in the Official Gazette, and be effective from the date of issuance the general State Budget for 2001.
Second, after review of the proposal submitted by Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz for the establishment of the 'Saudi Aviation Club', the cabinet approved setting up the club as an independent not-for-profit body carrying out various aviation activities, and declared it permissible with the approval of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation for the club to open branches for all or some of its activities. It is also permissible for other such aviation clubs to be set up after obtaining a license from the Ministry according to certain controls laid down in coordination with other concerned bodies.
Third, after review of the report submitted by the Minister of Finance and National Economy on the decision issued by the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council in its session in Riyadh November 27-29, 1999 concerning setting up a GCC customs union effective from March 1, 2005, the cabinet resolved that the concerned bodies should take the required measures to implement this decision.