'Kafala' in the hands of Labor Ministry

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Okaz newspaper

THE Kingdom is currently going through modernization and development of its economic policies and systems.

Rapid changes in the economy are enough proof that the Kingdom is heading toward a distinguished position in a few years, keeping pace with its Vision 2030 initiated by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense.

We have reaped the first fruits of this vision through the hike in oil prices and the success of our policy of economic diversification, which has ensured the state with alternate sources of revenue.

The increase in oil prices and the success of the diversification of revenue resources have boosted the government budget in the last quarter of the previous year.

As a result, we have the largest allocations in the history of the Kingdom in the 2018 budget.

While living in this cultural renaissance and modernization, which is commensurate with the contemporary global changes, we should strive to be effective members of society. We should join hands with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and his crown prince to make a better future for our coming generations.

Considering this, I add my voice to all those who are calling for the abolishment of the individual sponsorship (kafala) system.

The current system does not earn the government's treasury a single halala. It does not generate the expected financial proceeds.

Therefore the revocation of the system of sponsorship by individuals has become a necessity of the time.

It should be replaced with another system that can benefit the government and at the same time protect the rights of expatriates.

To achieve this, the sponsorship must be put in the hands of an independent government body that is affiliated to the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. This autonomous body should supervise the affairs of expatriate workers and cancel any role for individual sponsors.

The body should issue work permits to expatriates at fixed fees, which will feed the state budget. It will also liberate the expatriates from the clutches of sponsors.

Laws must be made to regulate the travel of the expatriate worker and his or her movement from one private company to another.

If this happens, it will definitely enrich the labor market, which is essential in the Kingdom's ongoing march to modernization.

If the sponsorship system is put in the hands of an autonomous body under the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, it will also be easy assess the needs and requirements of the labor market.

This new system will not contradict with the job nationalization program, which is an ultimate goal of the government while not ignoring the rights of the others. And it will be good both for the government and the expatriates living in the country.


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