'No' to raising driving age in Saudi Arabia, say lawmakers

The Shoura Council turned down a proposal to amend the traffic law to raise the minimum age for driving license from 18 to 20

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The Shoura Council on Tuesday turned down a proposal to amend the traffic law to raise the minimum age for driving license from 18 to 20. It voted not to carry out elaborate studies on the proposal, mooted by Ahmed Al-Mufreh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Council discussed a report of the security affairs committee with regard to the proposal to make amendments in the traffic law. Al-Mufreh suggested three amendments, including increase in age for getting a driver’s license. The committee recommended that the member’s proposals were not appropriate for deliberations.

Supporting the committee’s observations, members pointed out that many countries have a minimum age of 18 to drive, and this was after taking into account several social considerations. They were of the view that the current traffic law is excellent and as such no amendments were required.

Al-Mufreh proposed that the minimum age for drivers of private cars and motorbikes would be raised to 20 and for heavy vehicles to 23 in light of reports that a majority of road accidents involve youths.

The Council also rejected another Al-Mufreh amendment to penalize guardians for traffic violations committed by minors under the age of 18. The members emphasized that the proposal to register traffic violations in the name of the guardian flouts the basic judicial rule that stipulates that one not committing a crime should not be punished. Al-Mufreh’s third amendment was to impose driving ban on those using psychotropic substance and alcohol. Members were unanimous in saying that there is a provision in the current law to deal with this offense.

The Council approved the draft labor agreement on hiring Indian domestic workers signed between the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry for Overseas Indian Affairs. The Council discussed the report, prepared by its administration and human resources committee and read out by Muhammad Al-Naji, the committee’s chairman. There are several provisions in the agreement defining the rights and duties of domestic workers and their employers.

The Council completed discussions on the proposed draft law for the National Reserve Fund, moved by a group of members. Saad Mareq, chairman of the Council’s financial affairs committee, presented a report on the draft law, consisting of 23 articles. The first sovereign wealth fund aims at managing budget surpluses and financial reserves as well as making their investments and ensuring their better utilization.

Some members opposed it saying that Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency and the Public Investment Fund are sufficient to manage the reserve funds. The Council decided to give the committee another opportunity to present its viewpoints on the basis of the members’ deliberations and present them in the next sitting.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on June 10, 2014.

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