【Unlocking Word Meanings】
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
1. collapse / kəˈlæps / (n.) – the sudden fall of something
Example: The economic collapse caused a lot of people to lose their jobs.
2. revenue / ˈrɛv ənˌyu / (n.) – a sum of money that the government earns from taxes, customs, etc.
Example: Ten percent of last year's government revenue came from tax collected from corporations.
3. deficit / ˈdɛf ə sɪt / (n.) – the amount by which expenses exceed one's budget or actual income
Example: One of the country’s biggest companies is suffering from a huge deficit.
4. pay cut / ˈpeɪ kʌt / (n.) – reduction of salary
Example: The employees received a pay cut when the company suffered losses.
5. combat / kəmˈbæt / (v.) – to fight or contend against
Example: Several non-government organizations aim to combat poverty.
Read the text below.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has cut its ministers’ salaries by 20% to keep its finances under control.
The move was brought about by the global collapse in oil prices, which has heavily burdened the country. Midway through 2014, the price of oil per barrel has dropped from $110 to below $50. Since oil accounts for 87% of Saudi Arabia’s revenue, the government has to find ways to keep its finances stable.
In 2015, the government of Saudi Arabia acquired a budget deficit of nearly $100 billion. This deficit was partly caused by overspending on social security benefits and salaries for government workers. In this regard, the government decided to slash the salary of ministers and junior officials by 20%, and to reduce additional compensation such as housing and car allowances, vacation days, and overtime pay. Soldiers fighting in Yemen, however, are exempted from the pay cut.
In addition to the salary reduction, the government is also looking into other initiatives to combat the country’s budget problem. Riyadh has recently launched Vision 2030, a program that aims to improve the country’s non-oil revenues in the next fifteen years. Some initiatives being considered for Vision 2030 include privatizing some government services and improving business relations with other countries.
Deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the country’s heavy dependence on oil has been stunting the development of other sectors in the past years. Under Vision 2030, he hopes to expand non-oil revenues by six times.
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
· In your opinion, was it necessary to reduce the salaries of government workers? Why or why not?
· In what other ways can Saudi Arabia generate funds? Discuss.
· Should a country focus on developing one major source of income or should it invest in a variety of sectors? Why?
· Would you rather work for the government or for a private company? Why?