The unjust campaign against Labor Ministry


Al-Jazirah newspaper

PEOPLE are saying that a number of shops may be shut down as a result of new systems and regulations including the imposition of dependent tax on expats and the value added tax (VAT), which have reduced their profits.

Perhaps some of them may have noticed a slight decrease in their huge profits. In fact, some shops have already been shut while many companies have limited their activities to a few branches while closing down the rest.

These are the hot topics of discussion in divans and living rooms. Businessmen often tend to exaggerate the measures taken by the private sector to reduce their dependence on foreign workers, who have been hitherto managing most of the companies in the Kingdom due to a lack of experienced Saudi hands. Some companies, according to them, have ended work contracts of their guest workers and sent them back to their home countries on exit-only visas, and this trend is growing fast.

Let’s forget about what people talk in their divans with all its exaggerations and falsifications. We should know that what is happening now is a correction process. Saudi Arabia cannot afford more than 10 million foreign workers on its soil when many of them stay in the country without work. Some are under the sponsorship of individual Saudis who do not take responsibility for what their workers do. In addition, there are thousands of foreigners who overstay their visit, Haj and Umrah visas.

We welcome the recent decisions taken by the government, which directly and indirectly prevent non-Saudis from continuing in the Kingdom for work. This will definitely increase job opportunities for Saudis in various sectors.

Saudis have been complaining that they don’t get any opportunity to work in their own country as a result of the huge presence of expats who dominate markets and businesses. Some Saudis provided protection to foreigners to run businesses illegally.

Now the question is if these expats leave the Kingdom, are Saudis prepared to replace them to open shops and run various service firms? Many expats have left the Kingdom giving citizens an opportunity to work and do business under the protection of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and other government departments. Saudis have to prove their capability to run various business activities and take up jobs left by non-Saudis.

This is the hope. A job is one of the options, though not the best, to earn a living and ensure a decent income. Free trade and entrepreneurship have been an important source of income for people who worked hard and it led many of them to become successful businessmen. I believe it would be easy for our young Saudi brothers and sisters to achieve progress by self-reliance if they are given opportunities and provided a suitable environment to flourish.

There was competition between Saudis and non-Saudis to work in free trade and choose the most suitable ones, and in most cases expatriates were the winner because every nationality was a specialist in some kind of trade, and they did not leave any space for Saudis to display their skills and outshine them. These situations caused frustration and despair among Saudis and gave them an impression that they are worthless and cannot compete with foreigners.

Government agencies were certainly aware of the huge amounts of money that went out of the Kingdom in way of remittances by expatriates. These transfers, which amounted to several billion of dollars, were money earned by ordinary workers and owners of small retail outlets who exploited the generous attitude of Saudis and the flexible economic regulations in the country. We were unable to stop this outflow of billions of riyals.

I take this opportunity to thank Minister of Labor and Social Development Dr. Ali Al-Ghafis and his team for implementing the new rules and regulations with utmost seriousness to reorganize the job market and end the chaos caused by foreign workers.

I am sure Saudi men and women will be able to take up all trades and fill the gaps left behind by departing expatriates thanks to the ministry’s decisions and I hope the ministry would implement its laws and regulations firmly and resolutely. Every one of us is required to support the ministry to implement these decisions.

We should not support the unjust campaign against the ministry by some people who want the 10 million plus non-Saudis continue to stay and work in the Kingdom and laws that keep them forever.