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Saudi trade minister resigns

Riyadh, March 4, 2008

Saudi Arabia's commerce and industry minister Hashem Yamani has resigned amid rising inflation in the oil-rich nation.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah named Abdullah ibn Ahmed Zainal Alireza as the new minister, said the Saudi Press Agency quoting a royal decree.

'Yamani was 'released...from his position upon his own request,' said the royal
decree.

Alireza, an economist from a wealthy business family in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, had been a state minister without a portfolio for nearly two years.

The new trade minister plans to submit proposals to King Abdallah next week on how to combat inflation, Al-Eqtisadiah reported.

"I have a plan to control and monitor prices and to confront the repercussions of inflation on the consumer," Alireza was quoted as saying. He did not elaborate.

Saudi Arabia has tried to offset the impact of inflation on its 25 million people by introducing cost of living allowances for state employees, welfare payments, subsidies and tighter bank lending restrictions.

But the kingdom's ability to contain price rises is limited by its riyal currency's peg to the US dollar, which forces it to track US monetary policy at a time when the Federal Reserve is slashing interest rates to ward off recession. By contrast, Gulf Arab economies are surging on a five-fold rise in oil prices since 2002.




Tags: inflation | Saudi | minister | Economist | resign |

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