Saudi King Approves $3.1 Billion Plan to Ease Expat Fee Costs

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Saudi King Approves $3.1 Billion Plan to Ease Expat Fee Costs
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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 expat fee 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 labor. They’ve contributed to the exodus of hundreds of thousands of expatriate workers, hitting the already-struggling economy 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 work force enough.

Read: Expat Levy, Handouts, Defense Cutbacks: What’s in Saudi Budget

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

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