By SHARIF M. TAHA
RIYADH: The Shoura Council has condemned Israeli authorities for the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque, saying it sets a serious precedent and violates the rights of Muslims.
In a statement issued during its 47th ordinary session on Tuesday, the Shoura Council expressed grave concern over the extreme escalation and absurd measures which, it said, aim to strangle the already precarious conditions of the Palestinian people and continue Israeli aggression.
The Council stressed the need for Arab and Islamic governments and parliaments to work with the international community and peace-loving countries to put an end to Israel’s provocative practices.
During the same session, the Shoura Council approved a number of amendments on income tax related to foreign companies operating in the Kingdom in the areas of oil and finance.
The Council’s decision, which came following deliberations on a report presented by the Financial Committee on the income tax system, said the amendments are in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030, which aims to find alternative sources of income for the Kingdom, aside from oil revenue.
On another issue, the Shoura Council approved amendments to the system for protection against Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and the rights and duties of those who are HIV-positive.
Council members also stressed the need to intensify media and cultural efforts to combat terrorism and to reflect the Kingdom’s efforts in this regard.
In their 46th ordinary session on Monday, the Shoura Council discussed a variety of topics.
The Council asked the Ministry of Health to provide facilities for the aged who may require long-term medical care, and to coordinate with all concerned parties to provide the required funds to apply a strategy of security and safety within its health facilities.
The Shoura called on the Ministry to intensify efforts to apply a national program for early tests of newborn babies in hospitals, and to improve performance indexes related to infant mortality rates and the mortality rate of mothers during childbirth.
The Council also stressed the need to coordinate with relevant bodies to secure the funds required for the operation of King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Tabuk.
On another issue, the Shoura Council requested that the Ministry of Energy and Industry work out a comprehensive plan for the promotion of local content in commodity and service procurement deals and for the localization of its companies’ workforce.
The Shoura also called on the Ministry to encourage and attract investment, and remove barriers to that investment, for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the area of mining, industry and gas, and to establish a unified window for the issuance and renewal of mining licenses.
The Shoura Council then called on King Fahd National Library (KFNL) to coordinate with other libraries, cultural centers and educational institutions in the Kingdom. It also urged KFNL to introduce services to assist people with special needs and to make all its facilities accessible to them.
Later, the Shoura members deliberated on the annual report of the General Authority for Meteorology and Environmental Protection following a report presented by the Committee of Water and Agriculture on the Authority’s performance.
Members of the Council lashed out at the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME), saying it “neglected the environment” and instead focused on “predicting the weather for the next five days.”
Some members called for its abolition, or suggested merging it with the Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA). They said the PME failed to offer scientific explanations for marine animal deaths, did not monitor the deterioration of sea coral, and did not play a role in dealing with increasing emissions and waste from factories.
“This entity gained popularity among young people who subscribe to its social media accounts in order to be notified about weather-emergency holidays,” said member Muaddi Al-Madhab.
Member Khalifa Al-Duwsari said the PME is almost dysfunctional. “It implements the instructions of municipalities without studying the issues. There are companies that are destroying marine life within Saudi Arabia’s regional waters.”
Other members said the entity has taken no stand whatsoever against practices that damage the environment.
Members demanded strict control over companies working in marine environments. Companies working on King Fahd Causeway, for example, cause large losses of fish resources and the PME “lacks the personality to protest,” one member said, calling for the hire of private companies to monitor and preserve the environment.
Members said it is a shortcoming not to have an online system through which the public can report environmental violations.
© Arab News 2017
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