REUTERS/Tomohiro Ohsumi/Pool RIYADH Saudi Arabia's King Salman issued a royal decree on Saturday restoring financial allowances for civil servants and military personnel that had been cut under austerity measures. "The royal order returns all allowances, financial benefits, and bonuses to civil servants and military staff," said the decree, broadcast on state-run Ekhbariya TV. In September Saudi Arabia cut ministers' salaries by 20 percent and scaled back financial perks for public sector employees in one of the energy-rich kingdom's most drastic measures to save money at a time of low oil prices. The measures were the first pay cuts for government employees, who make up about two-thirds of working Saudis. The decree canceled those orders, saying they had come as a response to the sharp drop in the price of oil, the main source of state revenues. Oil prices sank to a low of around $28 last January amid a two-year price slump. Since late 2016, however, prices have partially rebounded, with Brent crude LCOc1 now trading around $52 a barrel compared to last year's average of $45. Minister Of State Mohammed Alsheikh said Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who serves as chairman of the Council for Economic and Development affairs, recommended the reinstatement of allowances after an official review and better-than-expected budgetary performance in the first quarter of 2017. "The government has conducted a review of the measures initiated in the fall in relation to the public-sector employees' allowances. A number of fiscal adjustment measures were taken over the last two years which led to a strong improvement in the government's fiscal position," said Alsheikh.
Some classes have nevertheless resumed, even though the teachers are not being paid. "They keep saying it will happen next month or next week, but nothing so far, only promises," Principal Rafii Mahmoud said. When asked if the school provided lunches, he laughed. "On the contrary, they are bringing us food," he said. Mohammed Abed Rabo, a member of parliament for Nineveh governorate, of which Mosul is the capital, blamed the situation on the "corruption and incompetence" of the local government. But Qusi Assaf, the governor's assistant for reconstruction, said they were overwhelmed. "We are doing our best but don't have enough funds," Assaf said. "It's not just Mosul. Nineveh is a huge governorate, and we also have to provide for the camps in the middle of nowhere with a huge number of displaced people." Mahmoud said his teachers were working out of a sense of duty because children in Mosul had already lost two years of education under IS and couldn't afford to lose more. He said it looked like the government was working for some other agenda, and that he could not even keep track of who was responsible for running the schools. "We don't have any vision for the future.
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