JEDDAH: Labor Minister Adel Fakeih has said there is no plan to withdraw the SR 2,400 levy imposed on private companies that employ foreigners in excess of Saudis.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, he said the Nitaqat program was successful in employing more than 400,000 Saudis in the private sector. “It represents five times the annual average of Saudization of jobs before implementing this program,” he pointed out.
Fakeih said the main objective of the SR 2,400 levy was to bridge the gap between the cost of employing expatriates and Saudis, raising the cost of foreign labor. “This is not a ministry decision, it’s a Cabinet decision,” he added.
He said the levy collected from private firms would not be added to the state treasury. It would rather be redistributed among the firms that implement Saudization.
“This means that these fees will be collected only from the firms that insist on employing low-cost foreign labor which competes with our boys and girls,” the minister said.
According to the latest figures issued by the Department of Statistics, there are about 588,000 unemployed Saudis. But the Hafiz program showed that their number is much larger than this figure.
Fakeih said the professional testing program would also cover citizens who undertake professional jobs to enable them to obtain a license to practice their profession and provide them with a certificate documenting their experience in the profession.
As for expat workers, they will undergo this test in a future phase at the time of renewing their resident permits (iqamas).
He said there was significant increase in the recruitment of Saudi women after the launch of Nitaqat program and feminization of labor in lingerie shops.
• Please see the interview in the Kingdom section