May 18 2011
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'Nitaqat' may wipe out 40% of private firms
Under the program, private firms will be classified into green, yellow and red categories, according to their performance in the Saudization of jobs.
Companies with high Saudization rates will come under the green category, while those who fail to achieve the required rates or refuse to employ Saudis will be included in the yellow and red categories respectively.
Spelling out the salient features of the new program in a recent press briefing, the minister said that companies in the red category would be prevented from renewing work visas of their foreign workers, while companies in the green category would be allowed to select foreign workers in the other two categories and transfer their sponsorship without the approval of their employers.
"The computer system at the labor offices across the Kingdom would reject any transactions with these firms with regard to renewing their employees' work permit or issuing new labor visas. This would be a serious setback for these firms that might eventually force them to exit the employment market," he said.
Meanwhile, private companies started to make an assessment of the jobs they could Saudize within the coming two months to avoid punitive measures in the wake of enforcing Nitaqat by the Ministry of Labor.
The ministry's move for mandatory enforcement of Saudization comes in the light of growing unemployment rates among Saudis on the one hand, and upward inflow of foreign workers that have already exceeded eight million on the other hand.
In this scenario, Mohammed Al-Jadeed, an economic expert, highlighted the significance of supporting the initiatives to employ more Saudis in the private sector.
"Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be extended with financial support so that they can play a vital and concrete role in this respect," he said.
Al-Jadeed also drew attention to the fact that more than 120,000 Saudi young men and women who continue their higher studies abroad under the King's Scholarship Program would return to the Kingdom within the coming years.
"It is impossible to accommodate them in the government sector. Therefore, it is essential to encourage most of them to engage in independent jobs through extending all types of support," he said.
On his part, Tawfeeq Al-Sowailem, another economic expert, noted that finding jobs for its citizens was a disturbing issue for decision makers.
"There have been serious lapses in employing Saudi jobseekers over the past two decades, and that resulted in the huge inflow of foreign workers," he said while urging the concerned authorities to find a just and balanced solution to the problem of unemployment among Saudi citizens instead of exchanging accusations between the public and private sectors on the matter.
Highlighting the significance of working out a clear vision with regard to Saudization, Al-Sowailem called for taking advantage of successful experiments in this respect made by developed countries such as the United States, Japan, and West European states.
© Arab News 2011
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