Saudi Arabia hikes gasoline prices

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia was set to raise local gasoline prices on Monday, state news agency SPA reported.

The initiative, aimed at more efficient energy use, coincides with an ambitious reform plan to boost sources of revenue and wean the world’s top crude exporter away from oil.

It said Octane 91 will sell for 1.37 riyals a liter, up from 0.75 riyals, while Octane 95 will sell for 2.04 riyals a liter, up from 0.90 riyals. Diesel rates for trucks were left unchanged.

The kingdom will slow plans to eliminate subsidies for a wide range of energy products, according to a new long-term fiscal plan in the 2018 state budget released last month.

King Salman formally announced on Dec. 20 that the target date for eliminating the government’s budget deficit would be pushed back to 2023 from the original target of 2020, in order to reduce pressure on economic growth.

The Kingdom announced its broad reform initiative in 2016, saying it aimed to “enhance the level and quality of services” provided by government and “achieve a prosperous future and sustainable development.”

Reporting By Omar Fahmy in Cairo, Noah Browning in Dubai and Reem Shamseddine in Paris, Editing by William Maclean and David Gregorio