JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS
Published — Monday 4 February 2013
Last update 4 February 2013 11:43 pm
Labor Minister Adel Fakeih said 80,000 beneficiaries have already left the Hafiz scheme after they found jobs.
The Hafiz is a scheme introduced by the ministry to provide incentives to the unemployed youth to find jobs. The incentives include a monthly allowance of SR 2,000 and job-training programs.
“Some youth have voluntarily stopped taking the unemployment grant because they do not need it. This indicates the rising level of people’s awareness,” the minister said in a press meeting after attending a function in Jeddah on Saturday.
Fakeih said the ministry is concerned with the quality of employment rather than the number of people entering the workforce. Moreover, he stressed that salary issues should be discussed between the worker and the employer, until an agreement is reached between both parties.
“The Ministry of Labor is concerned when the salary of a Saudi employee is below SR 1,500, because in that case the worker will only account for half an employee when calculating the Saudization level of the company. Any salary below SR 1,500 will not be considered when we monitor Saudization levels,” the minister said in his statement.
The ministry has plans to increase salaries to SR 4,000 with the help of the additional revenue generated by the new SR 2,400 expatriate levy.
When asked about the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the ministry and the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) on women’s employment, Fakeih said establishments that do not adhere to the instructions of the ministry and the Haia will be punished. Such companies will be listed in the red category and the ministry will stop most of its services to them, in addition fines will be imposed on them and some will be forced to discontinue work. He added that the Haia would deal with any incident of harassment or blackmail within female establishments.
Regarding the increasing criticism against the ministry’s programs, especially those encouraging female employment, Fakeih said the ministry is facing a number of challenges but it will keep striving to solve the unemployment problem amongst Saudis.
“The ministry is open to criticism and seeks to rectify its mistakes,” the minister said, stressing that concerted efforts are needed to find a lasting solution to unemployment.
Meanwhile, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh made it clear that there are no objections against men dealing with women in shops.
“A man may sell to a woman or buy from her in a dignified manner. He should lower his eyes, not speak more than necessary, and they should not be alone,” the mufti said while speaking on the topic of ‘deviation from the religious path.’
In another development, a report published by the Ministry of Education stated that the 2013 budget will provide 48,000 jobs in security and administrative positions across the Kingdom’s provinces.
The initial cost of the project is estimated at SR 2.8 billion and the implementation process will start with the appointment of security guards at girls’ schools.
The ministry will also appoint 902 male and female nurses in school clinics.