Saudi king replaces minister for water and electricity

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s King Salman replaced the minister for water and electricity Abdullah al-Husayen on Saturday with Agriculture Minister Abdulrahman al-Fadhli, who will do the job on an acting basis, state media reported, citing a royal decree.

This week Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is responsible for sweeping economic reforms in the world’s top oil exporter, was quoted as saying increases in water tariffs had not been implemented in line with the plans.

Saudi Arabia is seeking to reduce lavish subsidies on its power and water as it faces reduced income from oil exports thanks to lower crude prices since 2014, but raising tariffs is regarded as politically sensitive.

The kingdom also introduced its first rises in petrol prices and electricity tariffs in many years when it announced the national budget in December.

Power demand growth in the kingdom is estimated at around 10 percent a year and some electricity is produced by burning crude oil which would otherwise be available to sell on the global market. Riyadh is planning to introduce nuclear and renewable energy plants, but the proposals are still at an early stage.

(This story corrects name of Saudi king)

Reporting By Angus McDowall, editing by David Evans