Electricity tariffs to be revised from Jan. 1

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Saudi Gazette report

Riyadh — The Council of Ministers has approved gradual revision of energy prices in the Kingdom including changes to electricity tariffs effective from Jan. 1. 2018, the Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority (ECRA) announced on Tuesday.

Residential electricity consumption of 1-6000 KW/h per month will cost 18 halalas KW/h. But consumption above 6000 KW/h per month will cost 30 halalas KW/h.

Commercial electricity consumption of 1-6000 KW/h per month will cost 20 halalas KW/h. But consumption above 6000 KW/h per month will cost 30 halalas KW/h.

Electricity consumption for agriculture use or by non-profit organizations, foundations, charities etc. will cost 16 halalas KW/h for 1-6000 consumption KW/h per month. But consumption above 6000 KW/h per month will cost 20 halalas KW/h.

Electricity consumption by private healthcare institutions, education institutes and private schools will cost 21 halalas KW/h.

Consumption for industrial use will cost 18 halalas KW/h and for government use it will cost 32 halalas KW/h.

ECRA said, “This step will raise our economic efficiency and will strengthen our non-oil sectors as they become our economic development engine. It will rationalize the consumption of natural resources for future generations.”

It said the changes to electricity tariffs will help redirect support to the most deserving beneficiaries through the Citizen’s Account Program, which is implemented and supervised by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.

ECRA explained that the approved tariffs are designed to cover the cost of services and ensure sustainable electricity supply throughout the Kingdom.

It will also contribute to improving the quality of service, increasing productivity, as well as opening up the field for competition.

The Authority explained that it is working in coordination with both the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) and the Power and Water Utility Company for Jubail and Yanbu (MARAFIQ) to take all necessary measures and amend the billing system accordingly.

 

Source  :  Saudi Gazette

PIF plans cinema venture with AMC Entertainment

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Riyadh — Saudi Arabia’s main sovereign wealth fund said it planned to enter the cinema business with major US-based movie exhibition company AMC Entertainment Holdings, as the Kingdom lifts a 35-year-old ban on cinemas.

“In line with the fund’s mandate to help unlock promising new sectors within the Kingdom, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and AMC Entertainment will explore theatrical exhibition and related investment and partnership opportunities in Saudi Arabia,” the PIF said.

The agreement builds on the announcement of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media’s (GCAM) decision to grant domestic licenses to cinema providers, and directly supports the Vision 2030 objective of growing household spending on entertainment from 2.9% to 6.0% of GDP, it said.

“This announcement is a historic moment for the theatrical exhibition industry and a tremendous opportunity to connect AMC’s movie products with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s more than 30 million citizens, many of whom we know are movie fans based on their regular visits to cinemas in neighboring countries,” AMC CEO-president Adam Aron said in a statement.

“PIF sees huge potential in the Kingdom’s entertainment sector. We look forward to working with AMC Entertainment Holdings to explore opportunities in developing an industry that is expected to be around $1 billion in size,” a PIF spokesman said.

The Saudi government announced on Monday that the first theaters could start showing films as early as March, part of a liberalizing reform drive that has opened the door to concerts, comedy shows and women drivers in the past year.

AMC, which owns the Odeon brand, is one of the largest movie exhibition companies in the world with about 1,000 theaters and 11,000 screens across the globe.

Other cinema chains are also eyeing the Saudi market. Dubai-based mall operator Majid Al Futtaim, which owns VOX Cinemas, said it wanted to open the first movie theater in the Kingdom.

The government said it expected to open over 300 cinemas with more than 2,000 screens by 2030.

With assets of over $220 billion, the PIF is being used by the government to spearhead its drive to diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil. The fund is getting into a wide range of industries from real estate development to technology investment, tourism and waste recycling. — Agencies

 

Source  :  Saudi Gazette

Citizens’ Fund: First deposit of allowance on Dec. 21

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — The government will make the first deposit of monetary allowance for the beneficiaries of the Citizen’s Account Program on Dec. 21, it was announced.

This follows the approval of the policies of the program by the Council of Ministers on Tuesday.

The policies include details of the segments of the beneficiaries and the conditions for eligibility for the allowances.

Monetary allowance deposit is regarded as the first step in activating the support program under the Citizens’ Account.

The second installment of the support will be disbursed in January 2018. The list of eligible citizens and the details of the amount for each one of them will be published by 10th of every Gregorian month effective from next month.

The Citizens’ Account is the first government program of its kind in the country, covering all forms of support through a unified platform that ensures the efficiency of government support for the most deserving categories.

The program will be used to efficiently distribute funds through a unified electronic portal.

The cash-transfer initiative seeks to protect Saudi families from the direct and indirect impact of the government’s structural economic reforms by providing them direct monetary allowances.

The amounts of support will be reviewed quarterly to ensure that the benefit meets the requirements of the households.

The program’s policies stipulate that the eligible beneficiary should be a Saudi citizen, excluding the son and daughter of female citizen, non-Saudi husband married to a Saudi woman, non-Saudi wife married to a Saudi, and holders of transport cards. It also requires that the beneficiary should be a permanent resident in the Kingdom and not be an inmate in any of the government shelters or prisons, and that the disclosed data about beneficiaries should be consistent with the data available with the relevant authorities.

Cabinet approves plan for consumer protection

The Council of Ministers on Tuesday approved a consumer protection plan in view of the ongoing economic reforms.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman chaired the weekly session of the Cabinet at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh.

Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Al-Awwad said the plan includes setting up a joint operations room of a number of government departments for the better protection of consumers during the upcoming period of economic reforms and proposing media plans in this respect.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency following the session, Awwad said the Cabinet took this decision after reviewing an earlier decision of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) in this regard.

The Cabinet decided to establish a uniform contact center and electronic application called Bayyinah as well as conducting workshops and granting remuneration as an incentive to field observers.

The plan also stipulates carrying out campaigns to create awareness among consumers about their rights and highlighting the numbers of contact centers to lodge complaints.

The Cabinet hailed the world community’s unanimous rejection of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel.

Al-Awwad said the Cabinet approved the Audiovisual Media Law. It also endorsed starting the gradual correction in the prices of some energy products.

It approved the regulations for the support being extended through the Citizen’s Account Program, and the comprehensive strategy for the mining and mineral industries sector.

Al-Awwad said the Cabinet, after reviewing the report of the minister of finance and recommendation of CEDA, approved the final accounts of the state for the five fiscal years from 2011 to 2015 (1430-31-1435-36H).

 

Source  :  Saudi Gazette

Imperial palace guard charged over possession of child porn DVDs

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TOKYO-An imperial palace police officer who works in the palace’s security division and escorts members of the imperial family has been charged with possessing DVDs that contain child pornography.

Papers were sent to prosecutors Monday on the officer who is in his 30s on charges of violating the Anti-Child Pornography Law, Fuji TV reported. Police said the DVDs contain sexually explicit images of underage girls.

In May, police arrested a dealer for selling child porn DVDs on the internet and launched an investigation into his client list, which contained about 7,000 names. The imperial palace guard’s name appeared on the list, and law enforcement officials found multiple DVDs after searching his home. The suspect has admitted to the allegations and resigned from his duties.

Police said the list of 7,000 also includes the names of several other police officers and officials from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.

The distributor, who was arrested in May, took in more than 250 million yen from sales of the DVDs between January 2016 and April this year, police said.

© Japan Today

 

Source  :  Japan Today

Democratic Party leader proposes disbanding party, forming new one

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The leader of Japan’s struggling Democratic Party proposed Tuesday disbanding the opposition party and forming a new one, after it split in the run-up to the Oct 22 lower house election, party lawmakers said.

With multiple lawmakers planning to join the exodus away from the party before the 2019 House of Councillors election, Kohei Otsuka presented the proposals at a party meeting.

Other plans provided by Otsuka, who was picked as party president at the end of October, include merging with other forces and changing the current name, according to the lawmakers.

The plans will be presented to a party executive meeting for discussion on Wednesday, the lawmakers added.

The Democratic Party is struggling to regain the public trust following its predecessor Democratic Party of Japan’s short stint between 2009 and 2012 as a ruling party.

Former leader Seiji Maehara effectively dissolved the party so that all of its House of Representatives members could run as candidates for Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike’s Party of Hope in the October general election. But many of them failed to secure their seats, prompting Maehara to step down.

Democratic Party members who did not join the Party of Hope, now headed by Yuichiro Tamaki, formed the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which became the leading opposition force in the lower house, or ran as independents.

© KYODO

Source  :  Japan Today

Tokyo airport to be ‘scattered’ with robots for 2020 Olympics

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By Kazuhiro NOGI

Visitors to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics can expect to arrive at an airport “scattered” with robots to help them, an official said Tuesday as he unveiled seven new machines to perform tasks from helping with luggage to language assistance.

Among the seven robots on show at Haneda airport was a fluffy cat mascot that can carry out simultaneous interpretation in four different languages.

Visitors speak into a furry microphone, and translations appear instantly on a smart screen.

Travellers may also be approached by a small white humanoid robot, Cinnamon, asking if they need its help.

The sleek white robot can converse with visitors through its AI system and give directions.

Another robot on display can carry luggage through the airport alongside the traveller.

Yutaka Kuratomi, a representative from the Japan Airport Terminal, hopes that by 2020, the terminals will be “scattered with robots”, and it will be “normal” to see visitors communicating with machines.

They are also aimed especially at foreign visitors, who already have high expectations that Japan will show off its world-beating technology in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

“We want foreign tourists to think that the Japanese people are cool when they come here,” Kuratomi told AFP.

The launch of the robots also comes as Japan grapples with a labor shortage against the backdrop of an aging population.

With Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics, Haneda airport is bracing for a sharp increase in visitors from abroad and hopes robots can compensate for a lack of staff.

The robots will be on a trial for a month at Haneda from January 9.

© 2017 AFP

Source  :  Japan Today