Prominent Saudi businessmen and academics object to cap on expat workforce

Saudi Arabia will soon put a six-year cap on the residency of foreigners in the country

Riyadh: A number of prominent Saudi businessmen and academics have objected to the new move by the Ministry of Labour not to renew residency permits (Iqama) of foreign workers after the completion of their six-year stay in the Kingdom.

Speaking to Gulf News, they urged the ministry to work out a comprehensive plan to find jobs for the Saudi jobseekers in the private sector and review government procedures, which they say force them to hire foreign workers at the expense of employing Saudi youth.
The reaction comes following the accouncement by Labour Minister Adel Fakieh that residency permits of expatriates who have lived in Saudi Arabia for six years would not be renewed in the future.

The move is part of a 10-point programme to intestify the Saudization of jobs in the private sector to reduce unemployment. The minister also noted that private companies would be given a five-month grace period to regulate their companies following the announcment.

Last month, Fakieh announced a vigorous Saudization plan under which private companies would be classfied into green, yellow and red categories considering their performance on the Saudization of jobs.

Prominent Saudi businessman Muneef Al Shamri told Gulf News that it is high time for the Ministry of Labour, General Organization for Social Insurance and the chambers to intervene to work out a new programme aimed at intensifying the Saudization drive especially in the administrative and vocational fields.

“There are some government procedures that force employers to recruit foreign manpower.” Al Shamri suggested that the labour ministry increase the recruitment fee to discourage companies from hiring foreign workers and also set a minimum wage to avoid the exploitation of cheap foreign labour.

“Such initiatives should be implemented in a phased manner and only carried out after elaborate studies and proper consultation with the private sector,” Dr Waleed Hashim, professor of economics at King Abdul Aziz University of Jeddah warned.

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Categories: Asia, Saudi Arabia

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