Report on fee hike for Sri Lankan helpers misleading: Envoy

Sri Lankan Ambassador Azmi Thassim
Updated 18 April 2017
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Report on fee hike for Sri Lankan helpers misleading: Envoy

RIYADH: Reports of a hefty rise in recruitment fees for Sri Lankan domestic helpers, including maids, are misleading, said Sri Lankan Ambassador Azmi Thassim on Sunday.
“The Sri Lankan government is not involved in the hike of recruitment fees because business transactions are done by private Saudi and Sri Lankan agents,” he said.
A report published in local Arabic press said Sri Lankan recruitment offices have raised recruitment costs of domestic workers from $1,560 to $3,000, representing a 92 percent hike.
The report added that Sri Lankan agents have been delaying or suspending travel permits of workers waiting to be deployed in the Kingdom “to put pressure on Saudi recruitment offices to pay the hefty amount for hiring domestic aides.”
Thassim said: “The Kingdom and Sri Lanka will be holding talks soon to address the grievances of the parties concerned, and will hammer out a solution to the problem.”
The Saudi Embassy in Sri Lanka earlier issued an instruction for Saudi recruitment agents to pay $1,560 to hire a Sri Lankan housemaid, he added.
In the run-up to the holy month of Ramadan and Eid festivities, Saudi Arabia requires more household workers.
Both governments are keen to talk and solve the issue, but “private business transactions between Saudi and Sri Lankan recruitment agencies cannot be stopped by the government until Riyadh and Colombo reach a settlement,” the envoy said.
The report quoted Hussain Al-Mutairi, head of the recruitment committee at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as saying: “Sri Lankan recruitment offices have played with recruitment costs, which were at $1,560 as stipulated by an agreement signed between the Saudi and Sri Lankan offices.”
He added that the Sri Lankan offices “have also hiked other related charges including the monthly salary, which was raised and fixed at SR1,300 ($346) by Sri Lankan agents last February compared to SR1,100 as previously agreed.”
Al-Mutairi accused Sri Lankan recruitment offices of exerting enormous pressure on their Saudi counterparts.
He called on Saudi offices “not to respond to these pressures ... A unified position from the Saudi side will make the Sri Lankan offices work in line with the unified price agreed upon by both parties.”
Saudi Arabia is home to about 200,000 Sri Lankan workers, about 50 percent of them domestic helpers, mostly housemaids.


Spotlight on Qassim as Saudi business hub

Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi. (SPA)
Updated 25 April 2018
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Spotlight on Qassim as Saudi business hub

  • Qassim has the potential to become one of the Saudi Arabia's leading economic hubs: commerce minister
  • Al-Qasabi urged stakeholders to identify the issues that needed to be addressed to ensure Qassim’s economic transformation

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s central Qassim region had the potential to become one of the Kingdom’s leading economic hubs, Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi told a meeting of business leaders in Buraidah on Monday.
The meeting at the King Fahd Cultural Center was organized by the Committee for the Development of Investment in Qassim and the region’s chambers of commerce in conjunction with the Biban Al-Qassim Forum.
Al-Qasabi urged stakeholders to identify the issues that needed to be addressed to ensure Qassim’s economic transformation, saying that small and medium-sized businesses held the key to growth in the region.
“Today’s reality is based on the culture of keeping up with the latest developments, accountability and evaluation,” he said. 
“The ministry has a clear vision and strategy, as well as a large number of investment-targeted programs and initiatives that aim to facilitate and improve the business environment and help the Kingdom become one of the world’s top 10 economies.”
Vision 2030 has opened new horizons for innovative projects that will create thousands of jobs.
The chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Qassim, Abdul Aziz Al-Hameed, said the private sector needed more reassurances to take chances and invest in large projects. The secretary-general of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Qassim, Saud bin Abdul Karim Al-Fadda, said the meeting aimed to encourage businessmen and entrepreneurs to develop their projects and achieve their ambitions to build a prosperous economy.
The secretary of the Committee for the Development of Investment in Qassim, Yusuf bin Abdullah Al-Arini, said the region was home to 313 factories with a capital of SR14 billion ($3.7 billion). The region’s competitive advantages included its location, motivational work environment, transport network, industrial and commercial cities and free services provided by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.