Nitaqat to enforce minimum salaries for citizens

Updated 28 December 2012
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Nitaqat to enforce minimum salaries for citizens

Saudi employees in the private sector receiving salaries of SR 1,500 are viewed as “half workers” in their companies’ Saudization records in the Nitaqat system, while Saudis receiving less than that amount are not included at all when calculating their firms’ Saudization percentage, said Minister of Labor Adel Fakeih at a press conference in Riyadh yesterday.
The minister said the Cabinet’s decision to regulate the calculation of monthly wages will be implemented by Feb. 2, 2013 and will be aimed at improving work environment and tackling the issue of low wages. It will stipulate a minimum wage of SR 3,000 for Saudis and specify conditions for calculating Saudization quotas.
According to the decision, only Saudis who receive the minimum wage are included as one Saudi worker in a firm’s Saudization record under Nitaqat. The way to calculate the Saudization quota in the case of having Saudi workers receiving less than the minimum wage will be specified when the decision is implemented.
The decision will benefit those working on a part-time basis, students, those with disabilities who are able to work and released prisoners, said the minister, adding that the ministerial decision was announced three months ago, which gave establishments a period of five months to take the necessary measures.
According to a ministry statement to SPA, the Wage Protection Program will be implemented gradually by March 1, 2013. The ministry will enforce the program by requiring companies to file their employees’ wage data. Firms that delay the filing of their wages data for two months will be subject to sanctions that include denying them all of the ministry’s services except for work licenses service. If the delay was for more than 3 months, with the continuation of blocking the ministry services, the late companies’ workers will be allowed to transfer their services to other employers without their approval.
The ministry said the decision will be implemented according to the following schedule: Firms with 3,000 workers or more will be required to file the data by June 1, companies with 2,000 workers or more will be required to do so by Sept. 2, establishments with 1,000 workers or more will be required to file their wages data by Dec. 3. Those with 500 workers or more, 200 workers or more and 100 workers or more will be obliged to file their data by March 4, 2014, July 5, 2014 and Oct. 6, 2014, respectively.
On Sunday, the minister said the decision to impose a monthly SR 200 fee for each foreign worker includes only firms employing more foreigners than Saudis. (If a company’s number of foreign workers exceeds the number of Saudis then they will be included in the decision. Even with companies having more foreigners than Saudis the fees are only imposed on the excess number of workers. Others who have more Saudis than foreigners will not be included in the new fees decision.)
He said that after the fees decision, another one increasing government support for Saudis’ salaries in the private sector from SR 2,000 to SR 4,000 (amounts the government pays as part of each Saudi employee’s salary in private companies) will follow. The support period will be also extended from two to four years, he said.
The minister spoke in a meeting with the public in a Jeddah hotel after he did the same in Riyadh about two weeks ago.
He said that about 11 percent of small establishments in the country are thought to be involved in visa trafficking, and that 31 percent of them (small establishments in the country) cover up illegal labor (Tasattur, cover up businesses).
There are countries where a foreign worker has to pay SR 20,000 annually to be allowed to work in the country, he said as he commented on the new labor fees. The new fees’ revenues would cover the expenses of Hafez unemployment program by 2015. Foreign labor in the Kingdom cost the country SR 23 billion annually, six times the amount disbursed for the training of Saudis, he said.
The minister said the fees decision would only marginally affect the purchasing power. "Traders' talks of 'damage' to the economy and 'price hikes' is only an exaggeration,” he said, stressing that members of society have to collaborate with the authorities to combat unemployment and price hikes.
“The meeting was open and public interest was the theme of it. The minister explained the new fee decision, then allowed discussions and took questions. He did not use the meeting to impose his view,” said one of the attendees.


Saudi Arabia announces Khashoggi’s death, Trump calls it ‘good first step’

Updated 20 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia announces Khashoggi’s death, Trump calls it ‘good first step’

  • The journalist died after a fistfight at the consulate in Istanbul
  • Deputy intelligence chief, royal court adviser removed from positions, 18 Saudis arrested

JEDDAH: US President Donald Trump on Friday called Saudi Arabia's announcement that suspects are in custody in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a "good first step" and said he would work with Congress on a US response.

“Saudi Arabia has been a great ally, but what happened is unacceptable,” Trump said. Regarding the Saudi arrests, he said, “It's a big first step. It’s only a first step, but it’s a big first step.”

Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday the death of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying a preliminary investigation indicated he lost his life after a fight at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

“The discussions between Jamal Khashoggi and those he met at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul... devolved into a fistfight, leading to his death,” the Saudi Press Agency said, citing the public prosecutor.

Eighteen Saudis have been arrested in connection with the incident and the investigation is ongoing, the public prosecutor said.

“The Kingdom expresses its deep regret at the painful developments that have taken place and stresses the commitment of the authorities in the Kingdom to bring the facts to the public opinion, to hold all those involved accountable and bring them to justice,” a statement on the SPA said.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who lived in the US, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the consulate to complete paperwork related to his divorce.

Deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Al-Asiri was removed from his position and Saud Al-Qahtani from his advisory role at the Royal Court, through royal decrees.

Three other intelligence officials who were also sacked have been named as Mohammad bin Saleh Al-Rumaih, Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Shaya and Rashad bin Hamed Al-Muhamadi.

King Salman also ordered the creation of a ministerial committee, headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to restructure the country’s General Intelligence agency and issue the results of its work within a month.

Members of the committee include the interior and foreign ministers as well as the heads of the General Intelligence and State Security.

A team of Saudi investigators were sent to Istanbul and have been working on the case with Turkish detectives, who entered the consulate on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, Saudi Arabia promised a thorough and transparent investigation into what happened to the journalist in Turkey.

(With AP)