Saudi Arabia’s cabinet has deferred for further study a decision on limiting the private sector work week to 40 hours, reported Trade Arabia.
The Labour Ministry made the announcement on Twitter late on Thursday. It explained that the delay came as the result of feedback from business owners, without elaborating further.
The original proposal was designed to push more Saudis into private employment in the context of low oil prices and sluggish economic growth.
Public sector workers enjoy a 35-hour work week in addition to sizable pensions and health benefits.
Private sector jobs are held by the 10 m or so foreign workers, working for 48hours in many firms with only a one-day weekend, prompting businessmen to complain that any such move would multiply production costs.
In other news, Bloomberg revealed that Standard & Poor’s credit rating for Saudi Arabia has fallen to A+, the fifth-highest classification, given that the Saudi deficit will increase to 16% of GDP this year.
Again, falling oil prices were the culprit, given that Saudi Arabia’s state budget relies on energy exports for 80% of its revenue.
“We could lower the ratings within the next two years if Saudi Arabia did not achieve a sizable and sustained reduction in the general government deficit, or its liquid fiscal financial assets fell below 100 percent of GDP,” said Trevor Cullinan, a credit analyst at the rating company.
For their part the Saudi Finance Ministry said it “strongly disagrees with S&P’s approach to ratings management in this particular instance.” The downgrade was “driven by fluid market factors rather than changes in the fundamentals of the sovereign,” which “remain strong,” the ministry said in a statement.