Apr 15 2012
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Hafiz beneficiaries to face cuts if they violate rules of the program
Labor Minister Adel Fakeih has warned Saudi beneficiaries of unemployment allowance that the ministry would cut down on their benefits if they violate the terms and conditions of the Hafiz program's executive bylaw.
"We have a good opinion of all beneficiaries and we don't want to cut down or stop the allowance. But if we find any violation the allowance will be reduced gradually and the beneficiary will be informed about it through e-mail or SMS," he said.
The minister made this statement yesterday after endorsing the program's executive bylaw that comes into effect four weeks after its publication on the program's official website.
The executive bylaw refers to a number of instances when the allowance will be reduced or stopped. These include the beneficiary's failure to visit the program's website weekly or attend training programs and job interviews without having a genuine reason.
Under the Hafiz program, which was introduced on the directive of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, unemployed Saudi men and women will receive a monthly allowance of SR2,000.
The Hafiz program does not differentiate between unemployed men and women. All eligible Saudis will benefit from the program's subsidies, a senior Hafiz official said, warning that any beneficiary would be cut off from the program if he or she refuses to take up jobs offered to them.
Under arrangements with the ministries of Labor and Finance, the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) pays the monthly assistance to unemployed Saudis. Payments started late November. During the past three months the fund paid out close to SR4 billion to Hafiz beneficiaries.
Ibrahim Al-Miakil, director general of HRDF, said he expected the program to pay between SR20 billion and SR30 billion to the unemployed in its first year. During the first three months the beneficiaries rose from 500,000 to about 800,000. "The number of beneficiaries is expected to exceed one million soon," he said, adding that about 1.5 million Saudi women had applied for jobs through Hafiz program compared with 500,000 men.
According to Fakeih, unemployment among Saudis has reached 10.5 percent. However, he pointed out that the number of Saudis receiving jobs in the private sector had increased in recent months as a result of Nitaqat and Hafiz programs.
Fakeih said the ministry would issue on its website quarterly reports about the state of the labor market and the rate of Saudization. He revealed that the rate of Saudization in the government was 90 percent, 20 percent in investment companies and 10 percent in private establishments.
© Arab News 2012
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