Saudi Arabia Approves $3.1 Billion Plan To Ease Expat Fee Costs

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Authorities will exempt some companies from paying the 2018 fees or reimburse those that have already paid.

(Bloomberg) --Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has approved a plan to ease levies businesses pay on foreign workers to help revive economic growth.

The Kingdom has allocated SAR 11.5 billion riyals ($3.1 billion) for the plan, as it aims to encourage companies that haven’t done enough to expanded their Saudi work force enough.

According to the decree, companies that has a higher or equal number of Saudi employees versus expats will be eligible for the reimbursement or waiver of fees and companies with a lower number of Saudis compared to expats will benefit from the initiative only after they hire more locals.

The fees were introduced in 2018 as part of a drive to increase non-oil government revenue -- a key goal of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic transformation plan -- but have drawn fire from business owners in a country accustomed to cheap foreign labour.

They’ve contributed to the exodus of hundreds of thousands of expatriate workers, hitting the already-struggling economy without making much of a dent in Saudi unemployment.