Saudi Arabia’s finance ministry has been ordered to repay contractors for increased expatriate worker fees in government projects approved before December 2016, as the labour-intensive construction industry reels from an economic slowdown.
The kingdom has long relied on foreign labour for jobs such as construction, but a recent hike in expat levies and fees for dependents has triggered an exodus of foreign workers from the once tax-free haven.
Expat workers make up a third of the Saudi population, but they are increasingly being replaced by Saudis in jobs in sales and services as part of a major retooling of the kingdom’s lagging oil economy.
Government statistics show that more than 300,000 blue-collar workers lost jobs in Saudi Arabia in the first nine months of 2017.
But most class-conscious Saudis are typically known to shun labour jobs in the construction sector, which has been hit hard by delays in government payments amid a protracted oil slump since 2014 and a rise in expat fees.
Source Credit: Arabian Business