Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz chaired yesterday evening the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, which focused on the preparations of ministries and government departments for the upcoming general State budget. King Fahd instructed the ministers to give priority in the budget to direct services that are essential for maintaining the living standards of the citizens, who are the target and pillar of the development plans. He confirmed the State's dedication to providing and developing services in the interests of the citizens and the country.
On the international level, the cabinet reviewed a number of issues particularly the UN Security Council resolution on Iraq that which was adopted last Friday, and expressed the hope that it will put an end to the crisis in the region and avert war. Endorsing the statement issued by the recent extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers of the League of Arab States, in which it welcomed the UN Security Council resolution no. 1441 on Iraq, the cabinet especially approved of the statement's reference to the fact that the Security Council is the authority that should evaluate the reports of the inspectors, and the observation that the resolution can never constitute a justification to resort to military force against Iraq. The cabinet called on the Iraqi government to accept the resolution in order to avert any harm to the people of Iraq. On the other hand, the cabinet expressed the hope that the Security Council would be able to take similar steps to activate the UN resolutions pertaining to the Palestinian issue in connection with the establishment of the State of Palestine and the restoration of the Arab territories occupied since 1967; this is what will bring about peace and stability in the region.
Turning to domestic issues, the cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including approval of a list of utilities, activities and services that are targeted for private sector participation, namely:
• water, sewage, and desalination;
• communications, mail delivery, and services for industrial cities;
• projects related to air, rail and road transportation, and seaport facilities;
• silos and grain mills, and agricultural services such as quarantine, diagnostic laboratories, and veterinary clinics;
• State-owned shares in limited companies such as Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), Saudi Arabian Mining Company, and Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC), as well as in banks, local oil refineries, and in the capital of joint Arab and Islamic companies;
• government hotels, and public sports clubs;
• municipal services such as abattoirs, general markets, retail centers, public parks, transport, revenue-collection, and sanitary and waste-disposal services;
• educational services such as construction and maintenance of school buildings, printing of educational books, student transportation and housing, and renting and operating school and university utilities;
• health services such as setting up and operating health facilities, and providing transportation for patients;
• social services such as establishing long-term care institutions and recruiting Saudi manpower for the private sector.
The cabinet also approved amendments to item 13 of the military retirement system; endorsed the resolution of the 22nd Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Muscat, Oman in December, 2001, with regard to a standardized legal system; and resolved to extend for one more year the cabinet decision to bear customs tariffs for all imported Palestinian products.