The expat levy, minister!

February 08, 2018
The expat levy, minister!
Ibrahim Ali Naseeb

Al-Madina newspaper

SOME decisions that were taken with the intention of supporting the national economy and the citizens need review. Among others, these include the expat dependent fee, which has adversely affected the homeland and the citizens as well.

Some national establishments started to calculate how much they would have to pay for their expatriate employees. Their calculations ended in ways to get rid of their non-Saudi employees, who were obliged either to leave the country or work for lower salaries.

It is a real issue when the end result is contrary to what was actually intended. This decision embodied more adverse effects on the Kingdom and its nationals. Instead of being a favor for the country and its people, it proved beyond any doubt that it did not serve the interests of either.

The adverse consequences of the expatriate fee were numerous. It proved that the decision resulted in more harm than benefit.

The homeland is the biggest loser by the collective departure of expatriates and their families. This has a negative effect on the market, which is now suffering from a lack of activity.

A major proof of this is the streets replete with signs advertising vacant apartments and shops for rent. The homeland and the citizen will now have to pay dearly for this decision.

In the past people used to move from one building to another looking for vacant apartments for rent. Now they can see empty apartments are advertised everywhere.

The question here is: Where are the gains made by the imposition of fees on expatriates and their dependents?

Levies and taxes should have come from other means, different from the ones they are being collected. These means should have the interests of the country and its people as a top priority.

The consequences of the decision should have been thoroughly studied before it was implemented, particularly that the conditions of a number of small and medium enterprises are very bad and they are struggling to survive because of their deteriorating profitability.

We hope that these fees will be reviewed to protect the interests of the country.

It is a solid fact that the citizen will suffer when all the expatriates decide to return home. The entire national economy will also suffer in the process.

The adverse effects of the decision to impose fees on the expatriates and their dependents and companions have started to surface on the ground. Everything has become lifeless and stagnant in the world of selling, buying and investing. The forefront of these is the real estate investments, which enticed a number of investors to build residential complexes.

Today nobody thinks of buying commercial or residential property. The investors in the past used to build houses and shops to rent them out. Today nobody is interested to rent while many tenants have already left the country.

How can any wise investor takes the risk of building houses and shops when he sees them empty and filled with cobwebs?

Consequently the harm from the expat levy is greater on the country and its citizens than its benefits. The decision to impose the levy was made to serve the interests of the country and its citizens, but it has not. It was meant to reform but the result was exactly the opposite.

I am for any decision that will serve the interests of the homeland and its citizens on condition that such decisions should not bring adverse results.

We cannot keep silent on the bad effects of the decision to impose fees on expatriates and their dependents. This decision has to be revised as quickly as possible or the country will be the biggest loser.

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