The Council of Ministers was established in 1953 by King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud. Under the bylaws promulgated in September 1993 by King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, the Council has responsibility for drafting and overseeing the implementation of internal, external, financial, economic, educational and defense policies, and general affairs of state. The Council meets weekly, currently on Mondays, and is presided over by the King or his deputy.
An important precedent set by ibn Saud in 1931 was the creation by decree of a council of ministers. This document remained as a general statement of government until the ministerial system was formally institutionalized in October 1953 by a decree creating the Council of Ministers under the leadership of a Prime Minister. At first the Council of Ministers had no executive powers; it only made recommendations to the king, who approved all decisions before they became laws. The functions of the Council were however regulated following ibn Saud`s death in late 1953. Two decrees were issued on March 17, 1954: the Constitution of the Council of Ministers and the Constitution of the Divisions of the Council of Ministers. Another significant step was taken by King Saud in May 1958 to provide the legal basis and strengthen the power of the ministerial system. This decree revised the Council`s statute and recognized the Council as a formal policy-making body having both executive and legislative functions. After King Faisal succeeded King Saud in 1965, he decreed 2 other important changes: the first united the office of the King and the Prime Minister, which strengthened his position over the Council of Ministers; the second gave the King exclusive power to appoint and dismiss ministers.
Saudi Arabia - Council of Ministers Statute
Adopted on: 20 Aug 1993
Part 1 General Provisions]
Article 1 The Council of ministers is an organizational body headed by the King.
Article 2 The headquarters of the Council of Ministers will be in the city of Riyadh. It would be possible for its sessions to be held in other parts of the country.
Article 3 Membership of the Council of Ministers will have to meet the following conditions:
(a) Must be of Saudi nationality by origin and upbringing.
(b) Must be known to be of propriety and competence.
(c) Must not be convicted of a crime in violation of religion and honor.
Article 4 Members of the Council of Ministers will not assume their posts until they have made the following oath: I swear by Almighty God that I will be loyal to my religion and then to my King and country, and that I will not divulge any secrets of state and that I will safeguard its (the State′s) interests and rules and carry out my duties sincerely, honestly and loyally.
Article 5 Membership of the Council of Ministers must not be combined with any other governmental post unless the Chairman of the Council of Ministers deems it necessary.
Article 6 While in office, a member of the Council of Minister′s will not be allowed to buy or rent any state property directly, through a third party or in a State auction. He will also not be allowed to sell or rent out any of his properties to the government. He must not undertake any commercial of financial work, nor must he accept membership of the board of directors of any company.
Article 7 The sessions of the Council of Ministers are held under the chairmanship of the chairman of the Council of Ministers- the King or any of the deputies of the chairman. Its decisions are final after the King approves them.
Article 8 The appointment of the members of the Council of Ministers or to relieve them of their posts or to accept their resignations will be by royal order. Their responsibilities will be defined in accordance with Article 57 and 58 of the Basic Law of Government. The internal statute of the Council of Ministers defines their rights.
Article 9 The term (in office) of the Council of Ministers will not exceed four years during which it can be reformed by a royal order. In the event of the period expiring before it is reformed, it will continue to perform its work until it is reformed.
Article 10 The minister is regarded as the direct head and the final point of reference of the affairs of his ministry. He exercises his duties in accordance with the provision of this statue and other rules and regulations.
Article 11 (a) Only another minister can deputize for a minister at the Council of Ministers and (it has to be) in accordance with an order which is issued by the chairman of the Council.
(b) The deputy minister takes over the exercise of the powers of the minister during his absence.
Article 12 The Council of Ministers is composed of:
(a) Chairman of the Council
(b) Deputy Chairman of the Council
(d) Ministers of State who are appointed as members of the Council of Ministers by Royal order.
(e) Advisers to the King who are appointed as members of the Council of Ministers by Royal order.
Article 13 Attending the meeting of the Council of Ministers is a right that belongs to its members only and to the secretary-general of the Council. At the request of the chairman or a member of the Council of Ministers and after the approval of the Chairman of the Council an official or expert may be permitted to attend sessions of the Council of Ministers and to present information, and explanations he may have. However, the voting shall remain exclusive to members only.
Article 14 The session of the Council of Ministers will not be considered proper except when two thirds of its members attend the session. Its decisions will not be effective unless they are adopted by the majority of those attending the meeting. In the event of a tie, the chairman will have the casting vote. In extraordinary cases the convening of the Council of Ministers will be proper when half its members attend. Its decisions will not be legal in this case accept with the agreement of two thirds of the members who are present and the chairman has the right to evaluate the extraordinary cases.
Article 15 The Council of Ministers shall not take a decisions on a matter that concerns the work of one of the ministries except in the presence of the minister in charge of that ministry or any one else that acts for him. if necessary.
Article 16 The deliberations of the Council of Ministers take place behind closed doors. As for its decisions they are basically public except for those which are considered to be secret by the Council.
Article 17 Members of the Council of Ministers will be put on trial for offenses they may commit in their official duties, in accordance with a special statute that contains the statement of the offices and defines the procedures of the charges, the trial and the manner in which the body of the court is formed.
Article 18 The Council of Ministers can form committees that include its members or others to discuss a matter that is included on the agenda so that they (the committees) submit a special report on it. The internal statute of the Council of Ministers will decide size and composition of the committee and the work procedure.
[Part 2] The Jurisdiction of the Council
Article 19 Taking into consideration the stipulations of the basic law of government and the statute of the Consultative council, the Council of Ministers will plan the internal, external, financial, economic, educational and defence policies and all the public affairs of the state, and oversee their implementation. It will look into the decrees of the Consultative council. It will have executive power and it will be the point of reference for financial and administrative affairs in all the ministries and other governmental bodies.
[Part 3] Organizational Affairs
Article 20 Taking into consideration the stipulations of the statute of the Consultative council, statutes, international treaties, and agreements and franchises will be issued and amended in accordance with Royal Decrees after having been studied by the Council of Ministers of Ministers.
Article 21 The Council of Ministers will study draft rules and regulations submitted to it and vote on each article and then vote on the whole draft in accordance with the measures stipulated in the internal statute of the council.
Article 22 Every minister will have the right to propose a draft statute or rule pertaining to his ministry′s work. Every member of the Council of Ministers will have the right to propose whatever he believes to be of benefit for discussion at the Council of Ministers after the approval of the chairman.
Article 23 All decrees must be published in the official gazette. They will come into effect as from the date of their publication unless another date is stipulated.
[Part 4] Executive Affairs
Article 24 As the direct executive power, the council will have full control over executive and administrative affairs. The following will come under its executive jurisdictions:
(1) Monitoring the implementation of statutes, rules and decrees.
(2) Creation and organization of public services.
(3) Following up the implementation of the overall development plan.
(4) Establishment of committees that will investigate the progress of the work of ministries and other governmental bodies or a specific issue. These committees will submit the outcome of their investigations to the council at a time set for them . The council will look into the outcome of their investigations, and may set up committees to investigate (further) in light of the outcome and make a decision regarding the outcome after taking into consideration the stipulations of the statutes and rules. Financial Affairs
Article 25 The government will not be able to sign a loan (agreement) without the approval of the Council of Ministers and the issuance of a pertinent Royal Decree.
Article 26 The Council of Ministers will study the state budget and vote on it chapter by chapter, and it will be issued in accordance with a Royal Decree.
Article 27 Any increase required in the budget can only be made in accordance with a Royal Decree.
Article 28 The Minister of Finance and National Economy will submit the states final accounts of the previous financial year to the Chairman of the Council of Ministers to be referred to the Council of Ministers for approbation.
[Part 5] Chairmanship of the Council
Article 29 The King as Chairman of the Council of Ministers will steer the overall policy of the state. He will be steering, coordinating and (ensuring the ) cooperation of the various government bodies, and ensure harmony, continuity and uniformity in the work of the Council. He has the authority to supervise the Council, ministries, and governmental bodies. He will monitor the implementation of statutes, rules and decrees. All the ministries and other governmental bodies have to submit to the chairman of the Council of Ministers within 90 days of the beginning of every financial year a report on the achievements they have made in comparison with what had been stated in the overall development plan during the previous financial year, the difficulties they had faced and their proposals for improved operations in them.
Article 30 The following machinery is included in the administrative formations of the Council:
(1) The office of the chairman of the Council
(2) The general secretariat of the Council
(3) The panel of experts
The internal statute of the Council of Ministers explains the formations and the specializations of these organs and the manner in which they carry out their duties.
Article 31 The internal statute of the Council of Ministers is issued by a royal order.
Article 32 This statute can be amended only by the method in which it was issued.
Mode of Election
The office of Prime Minister is occupied by the king. The Crown Prince was designated the First Deputy Prime minister, and the next prince in the line of succession is the Second Deputy Prime Minister. The Council of Ministers therefore consists of the king, the crown prince, three royal advisers who hold official positions as ministers of state, five other ministers of state, and the heads of the twenty ministries, including Minister of Defense and Aviation Amir Sultan, who also serve as Second Deputy Prime Minister. In addition to the ministries, the Saudi Arabian National Guard, headed by Crown Prince Abd Allah, is similar in status to a ministry. The governors of Medina, Mecca, Riyadh, and the Eastern Province, as well as the governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) and the head of the General Petroleum and Mineral Organization (Petromin) also hold ministerial rank.
Saudi Arabia - Constitution
Article 56 The King is the head of the Council of Ministers; he is assisted in carrying out his duties by members of the Council of Ministers, in accordance with the provisions of this and other laws. The Council of Ministers establishes the prerogatives of the Council regarding internal and external affairs, the organization of and co-ordination between government bodies. It also establishes requirements to be fulfilled by ministers, their prerogatives, the manner of their questioning and all issues concerning them. The law on the Council of Ministers and its prerogatives is to be amended in accordance with this law.
Article 57 (a) The King appoints and relieves deputies of the prime minister and ministers and members of the Council of Ministers by Royal decree.
(b) The deputies of the prime minister and ministers of the Council of Ministers are responsible, by expressing solidarity before the King, for implementing the Islamic Shari′ah and the state′s general policy.
(c) The King has the right to dissolve and reorganize the Council of Ministers.
The Council of Ministers had authority to issue ministerial decrees, but it had no separate power from the king, who has to approve all its decisions.
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