Jun 27 2011
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Saudi Arabia: EP businessmen to be briefed on 'Nitaqat' system
DAMMAM/JEDDAH: The Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Eastern Province is holding a meeting Tuesday with the Deputy Minister of Labor for Workers' Affairs for the business community to discuss the "Nitaqat" system for the Saudization of private sector staff.
Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid, chairman of the Chamber, said that attendees hoped to acquire a "full and comprehensive" picture of the new system from Deputy Minister Ahmad Al-Hamaidan.
"The business community will be able to voice their queries on anything related to the system and its procedures and time limits," Al-Rashid said.
"The business community will be able to voice their queries on anything related to the system and its procedures and time limits," Al-Rashid said. "I would urge all businessmen and women in the region to join in the discussion as the meeting will serve to clarify all details of the Nitaqat laws and the various procedural steps."
Muhammad Barman, a member of the Chamber's Contracting Committee, meanwhile, warned that approximately 80 percent of companies will find themselves in the "red" category of the system and may seek unproductive means to secure a better rating.
"There are a lot of pharmacists and clinics and contracting firms in the red category, and a lot of them will try and get out of it by offering wages to Saudis while they sit at home just to raise their Saudization rates and get out of the red," Barman said. "Contracting firms are one of the worst-hit sectors by the system because of the reluctance of young Saudis to work in the profession. The system has been introduced without taking into account the views of the private sector, and that is wholly unjustifiable."
He added that the Ministry of Labor is currently working to "put pressure on the private sector without providing clear databases".
"It has turned to the databases of the Ministry of Interior and the General Organization of Social Insurance instead of producing its own database," he said. "The private sector needs to be given a considerable length of time to adjust itself, not the mere three months it is currently being given."
The Labor Office in Jeddah, meanwhile, has said that the "Nitaqat" system will "put an end to illegal trading and rule-bending when it comes to work visas".
Hattam Al-Enizi, official spokesman for the office, told Al-Hayat Arabic daily that once the system for Saudization - or "nationalization" in the new parlance of the Ministry of Labor - comes into effect companies will only be able to obtain visas for specific functions.
"It won't be possible to get around the rules, as as soon as a new foreign employee takes up a position with a company it will count against the nitaqat status of that company, it will be forced to nationalize its staff" Al-Enizi said. "
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