The Saudi Arabian finance minister has admitted billions of dollars are owed to private construction firms and foreign workers following the fall in oil revenue. Workers have been struggling for months without pay.
The kingdom has already paid off 70,000 redundant laborers, but tens of thousands remain stranded and unpaid. It has also suspended new contracts. The Council on Economic Affairs and Development (CEDA) does not expect all the workers to be paid off until the end of the year.“I don’t recall the exact amount now, but its billions of dollars,” said the new Finance Minister Mohammed Aljadaan, according to the Guardian.
“The ministry is now every day seeking to make thousands of payment orders,” he added. According to the official Saudi news agency, “the sharp decline in oil revenues and the measures taken by the kingdom to reduce spending on a number of projects” is what led to the delays in payment.
Saudi Arabia gets three-quarters of its revenue from oil. The 2014 slump in energy prices created a $98 billion budget deficit in 2015.
After the official visit of the US President Barack Obama to Riyadh, there were rumors that the two countries were planning to "drown" global market in oil, in order to reduce prices up to 12 dollars per barrel and hit Russia economically. The plan was mentioned even by George Soros, during a speech in Berlin, while Philip Verleger, former consultant under Ford and Carter administrations, estimated that in case that the United States alone would add in the market 500,000 barrels from their strategic deposits, the economic cost for Moscow would reach 40 billion dollars, or, 2% of the Russian economy. The economy of Iran would had receive a proportional hit.
The target of such an operation, at least according to the related scenario, would be to strike the two key pylons supporting the Syrian regime, that is Moscow and Tehran, and open the road for Assad's overthrow. Despite the fact that Iran, under the leadership of Rouhani who is friendly to the West, didn't support Syria as someone should expect, and Russia didn't rise tension for the same matter, the two countries remained the basic barriers for Saudi Arabia.