Saudi King approves $3bn refund plan for expat worker permit fees

Companies committed to localisation will be refunded or exempted fee payments on a case-by-case basis

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has approved a $3bn private-sector stimulus package.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman has approved a $3bn private-sector stimulus package.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, has approved a scheme worth $3.1bn (SAR11.5bn) to reimburse some private-sector companies that struggled to pay expat work permit fees in 2017 and 2018.

The order was authorised by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labour and Social Development, and has been devised in collaboration with the kingdom’s Private Sector Stimulation Office, and aims to provide support to “enterprises committed” to localisation in the kingdom’s employment sector.

Saudi Arabia’s latest programme is part of a $53.3bn (SAR200bn) private-sector stimulus plan that seeks to provide direct incentives such as refunding or exempting payments for “differentials of the work permits”. During the unveiling of Saudi Arabia’s 2019 budget last December, Crown Prince HRH Mohammed Bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said the programme’s implementation had started in 2018.

Companies “situated in the ranges of Platinum, A-Green, B-Green, or C-Green for 12 months shall be refunded the collected fees”, Saudi Arabia’s state news agency, SPA, reported. If these fees have not already been paid, then companies shall be exempted from making payments for 2018.

The programme also includes a grace period incentive for companies in the ‘Red’ and ‘Yellow’ categories to move to higher slots through “raising their average indigenisation rates within 12 months to take the lucrative initiative’s support”, the report added.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce and Investment, and president of the supervisory committee for the plan, Dr Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, thanked King Salman and Crown Prince HRH Mohammed bin Salman for “their generous approval”.

Al-Qassabi added that the scheme would act as “a catalyst to empower the private sector” and reiterate its role in the Saudi Arabian economy’s development process.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Labour and Social Development, Eng Ahmed bin Suleiman Al-Rajhi, said the move would “stimulate growth and expansion of [Saudi’s] economy through employment and job creation for more Saudi Arabian youth, male and female alike”, SPA’s report added. 

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