Expat levy on private sector and Saudisation of certain sectors saw many leave the kingdom
More than 94,000 foreign workers left Saudi Arabia in the third quarter of 2017, according to new statistics from the kingdom’s General Authority for Statistics.
The authority’s statistics show that 10.6 million foreign workers were working in the public and private sectors in Q3, compared to 10.79 in Q2, a decline of approximately 94,390 workers between July and September.
Saudi Arabia has recently increased ‘Saudisation’ efforts in a number of sectors, and stipulated that only Saudis should be employed in sectors including insurance, communications and transport.
The move is widely seen as a bid to cut unemployment among Saudis, which currently stands at about 12.8 percent.
Additionally, the Saudi government has begun collecting a monthly ‘expat levy’ of between SR 300 ($80) and SR 400 ($106) from private sector companies. The Ministry of Finance has previously said the lesser amount will be paid by companies which have more Saudis than expats, with the SR 400 levy reserved for companies with a larger share of expats.
The ministry predicts that the revenue from the levies will reach SR 28 Billion ($7.5 billion) in 2018.
As part of Saudi Arabia’s ‘National Transformation Plan’, the government is seeking to create 1.2 million private sector jobs for Saudi citizens by 2020.