Saudi Arabia to launch worker lending initiative

Filipino workers queue for applications at a job fair hiring for overseas roles

Filipino workers queue for applications at a job fair hiring for overseas roles

Saudi Arabia is set to launch an initiative to minimise the illegal trading in labour visas, it was reported on Sunday.

The Ministry of Labour will launch the Worker Lending Project which will permit a sponsor to lend a worker under his sponsorship to another sponsor temporarily.

Existing labour regulations do not allow an expatriate worker to serve another sponsor, Saudi daily Arab News reported.

“The project aims to rein in the negative phenomena of trading in job visas. Another goal of the project is to minimise the number of expatriate labourers illegally wandering in the job market,” Abdullah Al-Haqabani, the ministry’s undersecretary for Planning and Development, was quoted as saying.

The paper reported that a Saudi economist said last month that approximately 30 percent of the job visas issued in the kingdom end up in the black market.

It added that regulations for the new worker lending system have been drawn up after detailed assessment of the labour market in the country.

Youth unemployment is seen as one of the main drivers of last year's unrest which shook much of the Arab world, but bypassed Saudi Arabia, where King Abdullah announced a $110bn package of benefits to defuse any potential discontent.

Nitaqat is a quota system imposing minimum numbers of Saudi employees on companies depending on their size and sector.

It is part of wider reforms aimed at getting more Saudis into private-sector jobs in a country where nine in 10 private company employees are expatriates, while 90 percent of Saudi workers are employed by the state.

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