Shoura urges review of expat labor fee

Updated 17 December 2012

Shoura urges review of expat labor fee

Members of the Shoura Council are currently planning to convince the Ministry of Labor to reconsider the ministry’s new levy on expatriate workers. The members are of the opinion that the annual fees of SR 2,400 would only lead to a sharp rise in consumer prices and impose an additional burden on citizens.
They also believe that the levy has been implemented at an inappropriate time, especially for small and medium establishments.
“The council’s Management and Human Resources Committee (MHRC) is currently working on finding a way for the ministry officials to reconsider their decision on the expatriate levy,” Al-Madinah daily quoted council member Ibrahim Al-Suleiman as saying yesterday.
Al-Suleiman added that the MHRC has not been convinced of the ministry’s motive or justification to take the decision, especially when it will create a harmful impact on citizens and traders, even if indirectly. The member also demanded the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Consumer Protection Association step up their price checking operations, as the implementation of the new fee is expected to push up prices.
Council member Abdul Wahhab Al-Mujthel said the new fee would help end the unemployment issue, but on the other hand, would only serve to create more problems.
It is illogical that the labor minister is giving the same treatment to both the vast majority of the 6 million law-abiding expatriate workers and the few absconding workers, Al-Mujthel added.
“If a cleaning company has 5,000 expatriate workers, how is it possible for the company owner to find 2,500 Saudis willing to work in this field?” he said, referring to the provision for exemption from the levy by raising the number of Saudi workers in a company to 50 percent of the total work force.
Al-Mujthel also urged the minister to consult with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry before implementing decisions that may have far-reaching consequences on the common man’s daily life.
Another council member, Zain Al-Abidin Bari, voiced the opinion that the Ministry of Labor should have implemented the new tax on the sectors that provide plenty of jobs for Saudis by replacing expatriate workers, instead of imposing the tax on all establishments alike. He added that a selective approach is important in the execution of tough regulations that aim at the speedy Saudization of jobs, especially when it is the pressing need of the country’s economy to stop the huge expatriate remittances, which are estimated at SR 120 billion annually.
Council member Abdul Rahman Al-Anad called the ministry’s decision to impose the levy as untimely especially on the small and medium companies. “If the ministry wants to keep unemployment under control, it should first stop expatriates from doing jobs suitable for Saudis,” Al-Anad said.
He added that the jobs preferred by Saudis are in the administrative and technical fields that require university degrees and if these types of jobs are secured for Saudi university graduates, it would alleviate the rate of unemployment which is the highest among this section of the population.
He pointed out that most Saudis do not like to work for low salaries and therefore it is inappropriate to impose fees on small establishments. Burdening plumbers, electricians, barbers and construction workers with the new levy will create a fertile atmosphere for the rise in service prices for ordinary citizens.
He also ruled out Saudization of essential trades in the near future.
Moreover, he requested the ministry to review its decision once thorough studies are undertaken.

Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

The end of the driving ban is expected to help bring an economic windfall for Saudi women. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 June 2018

Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

  • The historic move is a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Saudi Arabia, says businesswoman
  • A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market

The end of the driving ban will boost women’s financial power and allow them to play a bigger role in economic and social diversification in line with Vision 2030, prominent businesswomen said on Friday.

Hind Khalid Al-Zahid was the first Saudi woman designated as an executive director — for Dammam Airport Company — and also heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

She sees the historic move as a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Kingdom.

“Women being allowed to drive is very important; of course this will help a lot in sustainable development as the lifting of the ban on women driving came as a wonderful opportunity to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” she told Arab News on Friday, ahead of the end of the ban on Sunday.

She added that women in the job market are under-represented; they make up to 22 percent of the national workforce of about six million according to official estimates. Lifting the ban will help to take women’s representation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030, she said.

“This is not just the right thing to do for women’s emancipation, but also an essential step in economic and social development as part of the reforms,” she said.

She said that there were different obstacles in increasing women’s participation in the workforce and other productive activities, and the driving ban was one of them. It was a strategic issue that needed to be addressed on a priority basis. With the issue resolved, it would help immensely in giving Saudi women better representation as they would help to diversify the Saudi economy and society.

She said that women could contribute hugely to the workforce and labor market as half of Saudi human resources were female, and unless allowed to excel in different sectors it would not be possible to do better, mainly because of restricted mobility.

A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market.

Nouf Ibrahim, a businesswoman in Riyadh, said: “It will surely boost female economic participation and help increase women’s representation in the workforce immensely. It will also help to reduce the overall national unemployment rate as most of the unemployed are women and many of them are eligible as university graduates.”

She echoed the opinion that the move would help to bring an economic windfall for Saudi women, making it easier for them to work and do business, and thus play a bigger and better role that would help economic and social diversification in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Being able to drive from Sunday onwards after the ban is lifted will be a wonderful experience. Earlier we were dependent on a male family member and house driver to take us to workplace, to the shopping center, school or other required places for some work, now we can drive and that will allow active participation in productive work,” Sulafa Hakami, a Saudi woman working as the digital communication manager with an American MNC in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“Saudi women can now share effectively the bigger and better responsibilities,” she said.