Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has approved a scheme to reimburse some of the companies who struggled to pay steadily increasing fees for expatriate work permits in 2017 and 2018 and waive the fee hikes for some who weren’t able to pay, the labour minister said.
The government is allocating SAR11.5bn ($3.1 billion) for reimbursements under the decision, according to the royal decree, a classified copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
In a tweet on Friday, Labour Minister Ahmed bin Suleiman al-Rajhi said, “This initiative will support private sector companies, help them overcome the obstacles and achieve their goals and encourage them to expand employment of Saudi citizens.”
Reuters reported that the government has approved $3.1 billion (SAR11.5bn) for reimbursements under the scheme, which only applies to companies that have had a higher or equal number of Saudi employees than expats. Companies can avail of the scheme if they recruit more Saudis, according to the decree.
In December, Saudi Arabia announced said it would reveal details this month of a study into the controversial levy on expatriate workers, with a view to reconciling its fiscal needs with the private sector’s ability to hire and grow.
The fees were introduced in 2017 as part of a drive to increase non-oil government revenue – a key goal of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic transformation plan – but have drawn fire from business owners in a country accustomed to cheap foreign labour.
They’ve contributed to the exit of hundreds of thousands of foreigners from the kingdom, hitting the already-struggling economy without making much of a dent in Saudi unemployment.
Source: Arabian Business