The measures were the first pay cuts for government employees, who make up about two-thirds of working Saudis, and prompted complaints about the impact of austerity on ordinary Saudis. Under the Twitter hashtag "April 21 movement," Saudis circulated statements last week demanding the reinstatement of benefits, a halt to the sale of shares of state oil giant Aramco, a constitutional monarchy and the restoration of the powers of the religious police. Security forces lined the streets of central Riyadh over the weekend, although no demonstrations appeared to materialize. IMPROVING FISCAL POSITION The decree said the cuts had come as a response to the sharp drop in the price of oil, which sank to a low of around $28 last year. Prices have rebounded since late 2016, with Brent crude LCOc1 now trading around $52 a barrel compared to last year's average of $45. Minister of State Mohammed Alsheikh said Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recommended the change after better-than-expected budgetary performance in the first quarter of 2017. "The government has conducted a review of the measures initiated in the fall in relation to the public-sector employees' allowances," Alsheikh said in a statement provided to Reuters. "A number of fiscal adjustment measures were taken over the last two years which led to a strong improvement in the government's fiscal position." Alsheikh and other key officials highlighted trends pointing to economic recovery. The central bank governor said the trade deficit was expected to drop in 2017, possibly moving into a surplus, while the deputy economy minister said the kingdom had reduced its deficit in the first quarter of the year by more than half, in part because of prudent management of government spending. "We believe this move will boost positive sentiment as domestic demand recovers on the back of enhanced government employees' disposable income," said Alsheikh. In a further concession to low-income Saudis, the central bank instructed banks to maintain the current favorable terms of consumer and property loans, having ordered their rescheduling in the fall to aid Saudis affected by the cuts.
Beckham will be made an OBE by the Duke of Cambridge, just months after emails in which her husband complained about being snubbed for a knighthood were leaked. Heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill will be made a dame during the ceremony, while Academy and Tony award-winning actor Mark Rylance will be knighted for his services to theatre. Beckham's award for her contribution to fashion comes after almost 17 years in the business and more than 13 years after former England captain David Beckham was granted the same title for his services to football. Press Association David Beckham with his wife, Victoria, who was made an OBE in the New Year Honours list on 27/11/2003 Emails leaked in February included one in which the ex-footballercriticised the honours system and those on the honours committee. A representative for the star dismissed the contents of the messages as "outdated material taken out of context from hacked and doctored private emails from a third-party server". Mother-of-four Beckham, 43, rose to fame as Posh Spice in 1990s girl band the Spice Girls, but after the group's split realised her passion was fashion and defied critics as she forged a successful career in the industry. Paralympic swimmer Bethany Firth, who won three golds and one silver in the pool at the Rio Olympics last year, will also be recognised with an MBE, as will master craftsman Tom Young, who has been glassblowing for more than 60 years. Related: Victoria Beckham's Style Evolution Style File: Victoria Beckham
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