The Shoura Council on Monday decided to present a controversial population control policy document, prepared by the government, to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah after it was rejected twice by the 150-member strong consultative body.
“We will attach the content of the Shoura discussions on the issue and the result of the vote of this session and the previous one,” said Mohammed Al-Amr, secretary-general of the council following a meeting chaired by Abdullah Al-Asheikh, president of the Shoura Council.
The Shoura law mandates that decisions are passed on the basis of the majority vote. “If a resolution is not passed by the majority, it is floated again in the next session, and failing that, it is passed to the king to give his opinion,” Al-Amr said.
The Shoura Council has been debating the issue of birth control prepared by the Ministry of Economy and Planning for the past three months.
The council voted on the recommendations by the committee, with 58 members in favor of the amendments and 64 in opposition. In a subsequent vote on the document, 70 members voted in favor while 50 opposed them. However, the vote failed to achieve the minimum 76 votes needed to ensure approval.
Saudi economists have emphasized the need for population control to preserve the country’s economic resources. “Families have to apply birth control in order to reduce expenses and provide better education and facilities to their children,” said Fadhel Al-Bouainain, an economist. He described the Kingdom’s population growth as the highest in the world.
He said birth control was essential to reduce pressure on the country’s infrastructure, especially health, education and housing. “Birth control should be a strategic objective,” he said.
According to the latest census, the Kingdom’s population has reached nearly 20 million translating into a doubling of the population during the last 15 years.
“If the population grows at this rate, it would become one of the major hurdles in the way of the country’s economic growth,” Al-Bouainain said.