2003 News Story

Cabinet: mideast, municipal elections, water and electricity

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz today chaired the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, and briefed the cabinet on recent consultations on international developments, notably in Iraq and the Palestinian territories. In this regard, the cabinet noted the danger of Israel's actions, which threaten not only the people of Palestine but security and peace in the entire region, especially the recent aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic and threats of more aggression. The cabinet called on the United Nations to should its responsibility concerning Israel's actions and its unveiled threats aimed at undermining all efforts of peace and aborting any initiative including that of the 'Roadmap'.

The cabinet issued directives for the restructuring of the municipalities sector, introducing election procedures for half of the members of each municipal council in order to secure greater participation of citizens in local affairs. The decision also gives a one-year grace period for the authorities concerned to finalize these procedures. For the Kingdom's major municipalities, the cities of Makkah, Madinah, Riyadh and Jeddah, and those in the provinces of Asir, Qasim, Jizan, Jouf, Tabuk, Hail, Baha, Najran, the Eastern Province and the Northern Border Province, the decision restructures the existing municipal hierarchy, and affects the rural assemblies that are linked to the municipalities under the regulations of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs. The Ministry's General Directorates currently existing in certain provinces, including Makkah, Riyadh, Asir, Qasim and the Eastern Province, are hereby voided. The amount in the State budget, however, allocated for each municipality and rural assembly will remain unchanged; moreover, the plots of land will remain part of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, and municipal services in the cities of Jubail and Yanbu will remain under the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu. An ad hoc committee will be formed to resolve the disposition of buildings, properties, documents, equipment and all assets of the municipal and rural affairs directorates general that are abolished, as well as the related posts of Directors General.

The cabinet also reviewed a number of projects that have been recently inaugurated by Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, including the ninth power generation plant, set up at a cost of over SR 5 billion [U.S. $ ,1.34 billion]. King Fahd urged conservation of both electricity and water, and, stressing the importance of the government's interest in this sector, commented that all health, economic, security, social and cultural projects are for the benefit of the country and its citizens.

Turning to domestic issues, the cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including authorization for the Minister of Foreign Affairs or his deputy to sign a draft memorandum of understanding with the Republic of the Sudan to set up a political consultation follow-up committee; authorization for the Minister of Higher Education or his deputy to draft and sign a memorandum of understanding on scientific and educational cooperation with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Peoples Democratic Republic of Algeria; and authorization for the Minister of Health or his deputy to draft and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of health and medical sciences with the Czech Republic.