Riyadh has doubled the price of cigarettes in Saudi Arabia
as part of tax measures aimed at helping the cash-strapped kingdom.
A collapse in crude oil prices since 2014 which forced the kingdom to induce austerity measures caught up with Saudi smokers on Sunday with Riyadh introducing a “selective tax” which increases the price of tobacco by 100 percent.
The new tax measures also affect the prices of energy and carbonated drinks, which are popular with Saudis.
The fresh regulations follow an agreement between the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council nations based on recommendations by International Monetary Fund. (P)GCC states have also agreed to impose a five-percent value added tax to certain other goods in 2018.
Riyadh is currently dealing with economic struggles brought on by a budget deficit of nearly $100 billion in 2015 caused by a sharp slump in oil prices as well as Riyadh’s rising army expenditure, a large amount of which is being funneled into its military campaign against Yemen.
The campaign, which lacks any international mandate and has faced increasing criticism, has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people, most of them civilians.
The relentless airstrikes have also put more than half of all health facilities in Yemen in a state of complete or partial shutdown.