JEDDAH — Gold and jewelry shops that employ foreigners will be asked to pay a fine of SR20,000 for each expat worker after Dec. 3 when 100% Saudization of the sector comes into force.
The ministry also intends to appoint permanent inspectors in every market and mall to conduct surprise inspections and punish violators of the Saudization law.
Khaled Aba Al-Khail, spokesman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, said field inspectors will track down violators and impose fines after the Dec. 3 deadline.
However, members of the precious metal and stone committee at the Council of Saudi Chambers have expressed their reservation over the success of Saudization in the sector.
“We need to fight tasattur or cover-up business to make Saudization successful,” said Abdul Mohsen Al-Namir, a member of the committee, referring to jewelry shops run by expats in the name of Saudis.
There are more than 6,000 gold and jewelry shops in the Kingdom that employ about 25,000 workers including expatriates. Some of them are owned by foreign investors.
“The success of Saudization depends on the success of fighting corruption. Many owners of gold and jewelry shops and showrooms are foreigners,” Al-Namir told Al-Madina Arabic newspaper.
“Many of the shops are in the name of Saudis but they are actually owned by expats. Some foreigners have entered into partnership business with Saudis,” he explained.
Al-Namir also spoke about the possibility of accommodating Saudis involved in tasattur business as investors.
He asked the ministry to study the reasons for the failure of Saudization and give shops enough time to deal with the reasons that have prevented 100 percent Saudization of the sector for the last 16 years.
“At present Saudization rate in the sector does not exceed 50 percent,” he pointed out.
Abdul Ghani Al-Muhanna, another member of the committee, expressed hope that the ministry’s full-scale Saudization will lead to saving the sector from tasattur (cover-up) business.
“The decline in the number of Saudi employees in the sector is really a matter of deep concern,” he said told Al-Madina newspaper.
He said expatriates were purposely trying to keep Saudis away from the sector to maintain their dominance.
Saudi employees in the sector are forced to work long hours affecting their social and family commitments, Al-Muhanna said.
“Many Saudis receive low salaries which has forced them to leave their jobs at gold and jewelry showrooms,” he pointed out.
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