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Saudi approves $3.1-bn plan to ease levies firms pay on foreign workers

The fees were introduced in 2018 as part of a drive to increase non-oil government revenue but have drawn fire from business owners in a country accustomed to cheap foreign labour

Alaa Shahine | Bloomberg 

Saudi Arabia
Riyadh skyline at night. Photo: Shutterstock

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has approved a plan to ease levies businesses pay on foreign workers to help revive economic growth.

Authorities will exempt some companies from paying the 2018 fees or reimburse those that have already paid, according to the official-Saudi Press Agency. To qualify for the aid, businesses need to have made strides in hiring more Saudi nationals.

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 without making much of a dent in Saudi unemployment.

The government has allocated 11.5 billion riyals ($3.1 billion) for the plan, according to SPA. It aims to encourage companies that haven't done enough to expanded their Saudi workforce enough.

About 350,000 companies would benefit from the decision, Al Eqtisadiah newspaper reported, citing people it didn't identify.

First Published: Sun, February 10 2019. 16:12 IST
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