Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz today chaired the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, and announced the establishment of a new Ministry for Water. The cabinet's decision to create an administration exclusively for the study, control, and distribution of water will split the current Ministry of Agriculture and Water, which will accordingly become the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry of Water will comprise all water-related departments not only within the current Ministry of Agriculture and Water, but also in the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, in addition to the water authority of Ain Al-Aziza (a natural spring in the Eastern Province) and all sewage and sanitary discharge offices. New branches of the Ministry of Water will be set up in the provinces to run the affairs of water and sewage, including areas now lacking such departments.
The cabinet issued a number of regulations concerning the functions of the new Ministry of Water, which will be assigned to conduct studies on the sources and reserves of water, control and manage the water sector, prepare a comprehensive national plan for the development and rationalization of water, provide a complete program for the supply of nationwide potable water and for sewer networks, reconsider water charges for all beneficiaries, propose a more efficient mechanism for collecting water revenues, make the necessary arrangements for the private sector to invest in the area of water, undertake the formation of technical committees to re-distribute the workforce and personnel, projects, studies, documents, facilities, financial credits and properties from the water-related departments to the Ministry, including a timetable for the transfer of authority. The decision was made, however, to exempt the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), which will remain an independent body whose Governor will report to the Minister of Water.
At the outset of the meeting, King Fahd briefed the cabinet on the talks Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz had held in Jeddah this week with Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Amri Moussa. The talks, he said, focused on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, and on ways of coordinating the Arab League's member states to confront Israel's military escalation and of improving the Arab organization's performance. The cabinet also expressed support for the outcome of the extraordinary meeting of the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that was held last Wednesday in Jeddah. That meeting issued a number of resolutions on political developments in the Middle East in the wake of Israeli military raids against the Palestinian people, and called on the international community and the Arab World to stand by the Palestinians until all their legitimate rights usurped by the Israelis are restored. King Fahd remarked on the danger posed by Israel's actions in Palestine while the international community and the Arab countries have been exerting strenuous efforts to bring about peace in the region, warning that actions such as demolishing homes, destroying farms, disenfranchising landowners, imposing starvation on unarmed people, and launching continued military attacks against these people, will drag the entire region down to the brink of an abyss, and will lead to unpredictable repercussions. King Fahd urged the international community to curb Israel in its acts of escalation, put an end to its brutal practices and protect the Palestinian people from this planned genocide.
The cabinet then discussed the Pakistani-Indian situation, and viewed the recent summit with satisfaction and the hope that it will yield solutions for the chronic differences between the two countries, particularly in connection with Kashmir and Jammu.
On domestic matters, the cabinet also approved regulations for honoring outstanding athletes in the military sector, endorsed the regulations for press and media, and agreed upon the establishment of a GCC electric power grid.