RIYADH (Press TV) – Saudi authorities are making strenuous efforts to cover up the kingdom’s poverty crisis as the ruling family, seeped in corruption, continues to grow wealthy, according to a new report.
Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (QIRS), a U.S.-based think tank, said the ordinary Saudi citizens are grappling with grinding poverty, while the ruling royal family continues to live in denial about it.
The regime in Riyadh has rarely released statistics on the level of poverty, although it is estimated that around 20 percent of the country’s population live in poverty, mostly women.
In its reports, the World Bank has often pointed to impending poverty and income inequality in the kingdom, which has been decried for its poor record on poverty and addressing the scourge.
The QIRS report states that with the Saudi pension system on the verge of running out of resources, Riyadh is currently exploring the idea of raising the retirement age and increasing contributions.
Quoting opposition activist Abdullah al-Awda, director of research for Democracy Now for the Arab World (DAWN), the report highlighted a “dangerous” change in the regime’s approach that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has firmly implemented.
“We always hear that Mohammed bin Salman is popular in the kingdom, but where are the independent statistics to prove this claim? Nothing,” al-Awdah said.
He highlighted the simmering poverty crisis in the kingdom coupled with so-called economic “reforms” that severely affect the middle and working classes.
He also cautioned against austerity measures that are fast gaining momentum, such as doubling the value-added tax, increasing fuel prices, and efforts to privatize hospitals and schools.
For decades, the ruling Saudi royal family has done little to alleviate the suffering of the burgeoning poor population in the oil-rich country.