Saudi government to cover 60% of private sector salaries hit by Covid-19

The first payments will be sent to companies in May

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman announced today that the government will cover 60% of salaries in private sector industries hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

The move is part of a 9 billion riyal ($2.4bn) economic package, and allows companies forced to consider staff lay-offs to apply for government aid of up to 9,000 Saudi riyals for the next three months.

It comes as the kingdom’s virus cases hit 1,885 with 21 reported deaths.

Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan urged private sector companies to avoid laying off staff during the outbreak, adding that the new package, which will cover 1.2 million Saudis, will be managed through the national unemployment assistance system Sanad, and could extend beyond the three-month time limit.

The first payments will be sent to companies on May 3, he said.

Saudi Arabia had announced various economic measures to help companies hit by the spread of the virus, with a 70bn riyal package exempting them from some taxes and fees, and a further 50bn riyal package sent to banks and financial institutions to help small and medium enterprises.

The government on Thursday had extended curfews in several areas, with the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah now under a 24-hour curfew.

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