Inflation continues to top the list of issues of global concern over the past 13 months. In fact, the level of concern about it has increased over the past year, with a significant jump. Inflation was followed in order by other issues of concern: poverty and social injustice, unemployment, crime and violence, financial and political corruption, health care and taxes.

The monthly survey, titled “What Worries the World”, published by Ipsos International, explores what the public thinks are the most important social and political issues in 28 countries on different continents of the world, including Saudi Arabia.

The survey showed that two out of three people think that the economic situation is bad in their country and that their country is going in the wrong direction.

The ‘Global Inflation Monitoring’ survey, published by Ipsos in July, also showed people around the world are worried about the continued rise in inflation and the high cost of living, with seven out of ten people expecting that the costs of food, services, and necessities would continue to increase over the next six months.

They attributed the main reasons that led to the rise in prices to the world economic situation, the Russian-Ukrainian war, and then to the policies adopted by the governments of their countries.

In 28 countries, one-third of people say the current economic situation in their country is good, while two-thirds say it is bad. Saudi Arabia leads the rankings with 97% describing the country’s economic situation as good. This is Saudi Arabia’s highest score.

Saudis were also the least concerned about poverty and social injustice, and among the four least concerned about crime and violence.

But interestingly, of the 16 countries that saw a noticeable increase in people’s worry rates about inflation, the Saudis were the highest with an increase of 24 degrees.

This concern of the Saudis clearly emerges from the investigative report “Visions of Inflation in Saudi Arabia”, published by Ipsos last June.

The report says the biggest issues currently worrying Saudis are inflation, taxes, unemployment and the coronavirus pandemic. Most respondents said prices had increased over the past 12 months.

Women were more concerned than men about inflation, taxes and fees while they were least concerned about unemployment. As for those with lower incomes, they complain more about the level of taxes, fees and unemployment.

The majority of respondents also spoke of their suffering due to rising prices for food and drink, transport, entertainment, restaurants, services such as electricity and water, travel costs, housing, health care and communications needs.

The Saudis attributed the main reasons for the price hike to global wars and conflicts, the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, taxes, price hikes made by manufacturers and traders, and high shipping costs.

There is no doubt that the wise Saudi rulers and government are not oblivious to these issues, based on their usual care and concern for the well-being of the Saudi people and their protection from the repercussions of international economic developments. .

The best proof of this is a royal order issued last July, based on the recommendation of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Chairman of the Council for Economic Affairs and Development, approving the allocation of financial assistance amounting to SR20 billion to deal with the repercussions of rising world prices.

Certainly, there will be continuous benevolent efforts on the part of the government to study the causes of the problems that concern the Saudi people and treat them with all the seriousness necessary to deal with these fallouts and find ideal solutions to these problems.

Given the current robust growth and dynamic activities observed in the national economy, it may be appropriate to consider the following issues: 1- Revise the rates of government fees and customs charges. 2- Reduce value added tax (VAT) rates, which contribute to increasing consumers’ purchasing power. 3- Assess the feasibility of setting new ceilings for the prices of certain basic necessities, services and real estate.

4- Promote local production by striving to reduce the production costs of goods, services and royalties in order to allow investors to increase their production capacities. 5- Encourage the dissemination of consumer associations. 6- Intensify efforts to monitor price manipulation and commercial fraud. 7- Avoid the monopolistic practices of dealers, commercial agencies and distributors, and create greater competition between traders of goods and services.

8- Guarantee the complete independence of the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) vis-à-vis the Ministry of Finance. 9- Review the system of fixed exchange rate of the riyal with the US dollar, and assess the feasibility of linking it to a basket of currencies for the main trading partners of the Kingdom, in order to ensure better stability of its purchase value , and expand SAMA’s capacity to adopt appropriate monetary policies.

10- Study the impact on the standard of living of an influx of internal migration from the suburbs and villages to the main cities in search of jobs and services following the concentration of investment projects in urban areas. 11- Lack of confidence in the orientations and proposals of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.