G20 leaders seek measures for youth, women

President of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde arrives for a Welcome Dinner at the Murabba Palace in Riyadh on February 22, 2020 during the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting. (AFP)
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Updated 24 February 2020

G20 leaders seek measures for youth, women

  • The Kingdom’s finance minister joined calls to enhance access to opportunities for all

RIYADH: G20 finance ministers and central bank governors have agreed to encourage the use of digital financial services in order to boost inclusion for under-served groups, especially women, youth, and small and medium enterprises.

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said: “The global economy has not been delivering for all, as we can see from the persistence of income inequality as well as gender and age gaps and employment. Ministers and governors discussed the potential policies to enhance access to opportunities for all.”

The ministers underscored the need of an inclusive approach to growth, and to tap economic potential to help address inequality and help all segments of society, especially women and youth. 

“Therefore, the ministers and the governors agreed to develop new policy options that countries can draw to enhance access to opportunities for all, for empowering people,” said the minister.

“This topic is highly relevant for the MENA region and we are looking forward to actions that will lead us toward more inclusion in the region and beyond,” added Al -Jadaan. 

“One of our presidency’s priorities is to mobilize the necessary financing for developing and low income countries. The G20 leaders committed in 2018 to reach a global consensus-based solution that addresses the tax challenges arising from the digitalization of the economy,” he added.

They stressed the importance of an all-OECD inclusive framework to reach an agreement on key policy features at their next meeting in July. “We recognize that businesses would face a significant increase in its compliance burden and tax uncertainty if no agreement is reached within the timeline,” he said.

On taxation he said: “We welcome recent progress made on the tax challenges arising from the digitalization of the economy.” 

On harmonizing the Saudi tax regime according to global norms Al-Jadaan said: “I assure you that we are within the global norm. Saudi Arabia is part of the globe and we obviously look forward to ensuring that our tax regime is business friendly.

“The tax regime generally in the context of the G20 is a really important one and one of the topics that we have discussed today is ensuring that not only developed but also no devoting nation is left behind,” he said.

Al-Jadaan commented on Lebanon, saying that it “is an Arab country, and we care for what happens there.”

Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said: “We met at a time of particular uncertainty. The projected recovery is fragile and predicated on a return to normal conditions in previously stressed or under-performing economies.”


Saudi labor force figures on the rise before pandemic

Updated 08 July 2020

Saudi labor force figures on the rise before pandemic

  • Trend driven by increase in female employment, but second quarter data will reveal impact of virus on jobs

RIYADH: Saudi unemployment dipped below 12 percent in the first quarter for the first time in four years — but the government data does not reflect the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

The Labor Force Survey published by the General Authority of Statistics (GASTAT), which was conducted in January 2020, before the pandemic, showed that the total unemployment rate amounted to 5.7 percent in the first quarter, unchanged compared to the first quarter of the previous year.

Regional economies have been hit by the double whammy of the coronavirus and weak oil prices which has forced major employers to lay off staff throughout the Gulf and led to the departure of thousands of expatriate workers.

Last week the International Labor Organization warned the outlook for the global jobs market in the second half of 2020 was “highly uncertain” and that employment was unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels this year. 

“The estimates have revised upwards considerably the damage done to our labor markets by the pandemic,” said Guy Ryder, ILO director-general.

The Saudi unemployment rate decreased to 11.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, from 12.5 percent the same period in 2019, and compared to 12 percent in the last quarter of 2019. 

The figures also reflect an increase in the total labor force participation rate to 58.2 percent in the first three months of 2020, a jump of 1.8 percentage points compared to the same period in 2019.

GASTAT said that the stability in the unemployment rate and the increase of labor force participation rate were due to the increase in the number of employees in the survey.

That trend was driven by a decrease in the Saudi female unemployment rate that stood at 28.2 percent in the first quarter of 2020, 2.7 percentage points lower than the last quarter in 2019. 

Meanwhile the Saudi male unemployment rate rose to 5.6 percent, 0.6 percentage points higher than the rate of last quarter in 2019.

The statistics show that there are almost 9.98 million people in employment across the public and private sectors.

About 3.2 million of them are Saudis. The figures exclude workers in the security and military sectors. 

The data also reveal that there are 3.66 million domestic workers in the country, all of them non-Saudis.

The labor market statistics are compiled from two main sources. The first is the labor force survey, which is a household survey that is carried out by GASTAT and provides the most important indicators of the labor market, such as the unemployment and labor force participation rates.

The second source is administrative data which is recorded and updated by government agencies related to the labor market.