Use drastic measures to fight tasattur


Al-Madinah newspaper

I was recently driving on the Riyadh-Al-Qasim Highway when I noticed that several gas stations on the road and grocery shops were run by expatriate workers through tasattur, the practice in which a citizen enables a foreigner to run a business in his name, license or commercial certificate. These expatriate workers earn millions of riyals while the Saudi owners earn a very small percentage.

Tasattur can be found in small and major cities. Despite the Ministry of Commerce’s efforts to curb it, tasattur is still rampant. Expatriates of different nationalities control certain businesses and open more and more branches. As a result, our streets and neighborhoods are full of stores run by non-Saudis through tasattur.

Tasattur has become like a chronic disease which the authorities cannot treat or curb, in spite of there being harsh penalties and hefty fines as well as a legal system that names, shames and deports those involved.

Our economy, according to a Sabq newspaper report, still suffers huge losses amounting to SR100 billion a year. It is the reason behind the loss of capital, rising unemployment, fraud and the prevalence of counterfeit goods. Most expatriates care only about profits. For them, the end justifies the means.

Today, we have the Transformation Program 2020 and Saudi Vision 2030. The government wants to build a new future for us. We need to come up with drastic solutions to eradicate tasattur and prevent loss of capital. Perhaps the authorities need to reconsider the kafala (sponsorship) system and activate a green card system and other similar programs. We need to introduce residency laws that permit residents to conduct businesses under the direct supervision of the authorities.

We also need to allow public agency officers to run their own businesses while ensuring that this will not have a negative impact on their public positions. The Anti-Tasattur National Program should take more drastic and draconian measures to fight tasattur and impose heftier fines and stricter penalties.