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Saudi Arabia

Expat levy under review

JEDDAH: The Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) and the Ministry of Labor has formed a joint committee to review the contentious SR2,400 levy on expatriate workers.
Members of the CSC said they were optimistic that new Labor Minister Mofarrej Al-Haqbani would take decisions to protect business interests.
Sulaiman Al-Aouairi, chairman of the national committee of commerce at the CSC, said that the committee would review the levy and the recruitment of domestic workers. “At the same time, we hope the new labor minister will take more positive steps toward the business sector.”
“There are new proposals to resolve the recruitment crisis that will be reviewed by the joint committee. It will draw up a long-term strategy for cooperation between the ministry and the CSC,” he said.
Abdullah Al-Habib, director of a recruitment agency, told Arab News that the private sector wants a review of the levy. He said several companies have passed on this cost to their workers, which had forced many to leave the country.
He said the annual fees have been imposed on about 4 million expats, which many companies cannot afford because of their thin profit margins. “The labor tax means the private sector is required to pay the ministry more than SR5 billion,” he said.
The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry opposed the annual fees when it was introduced three years ago, and argued that it would increase the prices of commodities and services. The Shoura Council has also urged the ministry to review the levy and claimed it has led to sharp increases in consumer prices, placed an additional burden on citizens, and harmed local businesses.

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