Saudi Arabia allocates $3.1bn to help private sector with expat fees

Reimbursements of expat fees will be especially valuable to labor-intensive sectors such as construction, one expert said. (Shutterstock)
Updated 10 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia allocates $3.1bn to help private sector with expat fees

  • Companies that had a higher or equal number of Saudi employees versus expats will be eligible for the reimbursement or waiver of fees
  • The government has allocated 11.5 billion riyals ($3.1 billion) for reimbursements under the decision

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has approved a scheme to reimburse some of the companies that struggled to pay steadily increasing fees for expatriate work permits in 2017 and 2018 and waive the fee hikes for some who weren’t able to pay, the labor minister said.
The government has allocated 11.5 billion riyals ($3.1 billion) for reimbursements under the decision.
“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,” Labour Minister Ahmed bin Suleiman Al-Rajhi tweeted on Friday.
Only companies that had a higher or equal number of Saudi employees versus expats will be eligible for the reimbursement or waiver of fees, according to the decree. Companies with a lower number of Saudis compared to expats will benefit from the initiative only after they hire more locals, it said.
“The decision will have a huge positive impact on the Saudi economy and especially the manpower intensive construction sector, which was the worst hit by the collective invoice,” Osama Al-Afaliq, head of the Saudi Contractors Association, told Reuters.
In its fiscal balance program announced in 2016 and implemented in 2017, Saudi Arabia said it would gradually increase the fees for hiring expatriates and obtaining visas for their dependents to encourage companies to hire more Saudi nationals.
It also changed the system of payment from an annual work permit renewal to a one-time lump sum payment at the beginning of the year accounting for each foreign worker employed by the company — a so-called collective invoice.
The annual fee hikes, rising gradually to 2020, were seen as crucial to Riyadh’s plan to create more jobs and cut the unemployment rate.
Some 10 million foreigners are working in Saudi Arabia.


BP and SOCAR sign new Azeri oil deal

Updated 19 April 2019
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BP and SOCAR sign new Azeri oil deal

  • The Azeri Central East (ACE) platform, the latest phase of Azerbaijan’s giant Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG) oilfields extension program, is expected to produce 100,000 barrels of oil a day
  • BP and the government of Azerbaijan extended their agreement to continue developing the ACG fields until 2050 in a major deal in 2017

BAKU: Oil major BP and Azerbaijan’s state energy company SOCAR signed an agreement on Friday to build a new exploration platform for the South Caucasus nation’s three major oilfields, BP-Azerbaijan said in a statement.
The Azeri Central East (ACE) platform, the latest phase of Azerbaijan’s giant Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG) oilfields extension program, is expected to produce 100,000 barrels of oil a day and cost $6 billion to build, the company said.
The project is one of the biggest upstream investment decisions to have been signed in Azerbaijan so far this year.
The ACG fields, which to date have produced around 3.5 billion barrels of oil, are estimated to have the potential to yield another 3 billion barrels.
BP’s main aim now would be to maximize the extraction of remaining reserves, Robert Morris, senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said in a statement.
“ACE is central to those plans, adding 100,000 barrels per day of production at peak in the mid-2020s,” he said.
BP and the government of Azerbaijan extended their agreement to continue developing the ACG fields until 2050 in a major deal in 2017.
Separately, SOCAR and its partners at the BP-led ACG consortium plan to participate in a tender to acquire stakes being sold by two of its members, ExxonMobil and Chevron.
SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev made the announcement to reporters following a meeting of senior SOCAR figures on Friday.