Saudi Arabia has told the IMF that it does not intend to tamper with energy subsidies until its public transport system has been completed. Riyadh has not responded publicly to the latest IMF report, which urges the kingdom to gradually ease subsidies (MEES, 21 August). But a Saudi-owned newspaper quoted unnamed officials as saying subsidies were not negotiable at the present time.

Some oil producing nations in the region have taken advantage of lower international oil prices to scrap costly subsidies, but the Opec giant has repeatedly said that it is tackling high energy consumption through a conservation campaign that kicked off last year, but has yet to make a significant impact on domestic energy use in the Middle East’s largest economy. (CONTINUED - 1149 WORDS)