Recruitment agencies in Saudi Arabia are exploiting their clients by charging double the advertised rates, according to an investigation by Al-Watan newspaper.
The fees contravene the Ministry of Labour and Social Development's pricing regulations, which were implemented to prevent exploitation of migrant workers.
However, the recruitment offices claim the rates are arbitrary and do not reflect the true costs of importing workers from abroad.
Khalid Al-Sulaim, deputy chairman of the recruitment offices committee at Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also pointed to the mismatch between the ceiling price and true cost: "The price set by the ministry for workers recruited from Sri Lanka is only SR1,560 when the cost of recruiting workers from Sri Lanka is more than SR3,000. Recruitment offices are not happy with the ministry's regulations and a lack of conformity to and compliance with the regulations is harming the interests of both parties, the Kingdom and the countries exporting labour."
Ministry of Labor and Social Development spokesman Khalid Abalkhail dismissed the complaints, insisting that inspection campaigns will be carried out to ensure that the guidelines are followed.
Moves to regulate the exploitation of migrant workers come amid a wider policy of Saudisation. In a bid to reduce unemployment from its current level of 12.8% the government has implemented a number of policies to limit the role of expats in the jobs market. In October last year expat visas were limited to one year, while in December the Ministry of Labour and Social Development begun implementing a ban on foreigners working in the kingdom’s $3.73 billion gold and jewellery industry.
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