Monday, Feb 11, 2019 | Jamadi Al Thani 6, 1440
Saudi king approves $3.1bn for companies struggling with expat fees
Saudi Arabia will set
aside over $3 billion for companies in the kingdom who have struggled to pay
expat fees in 2017 and 2018, according to the labour minister.
The private sector stimulus plan,
approved by King Salman, will also waive the increases in fees for companies
that haven’t be able to pay.
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.