Abdullah Abu Al-Samh
LABOR Minister Adel Fakieh has become a star in the local press and not a day passes without his pictures and statements in print.
Fakieh makes controversial decisions that polarize public opinion, especially in the private sector. His move to impose a monthly SR200 fee per expatriate worker on companies that employ more foreigners than Saudis has triggered the latest controversy.
These fees will no doubt increase the cost of recruitment of foreign manpower. It is an established fact that in many companies, especially in the construction sector, the employment ratio is 90 foreign workers to less than 10 Saudis. This is because Saudis are unwilling to accept labor-intensive jobs. Therefore, the SR200 monthly fee will not help Saudization efforts in these companies because they are unable to find Saudi workers.
The chambers of commerce and industry have openly objected to the decision.
They said they will use all peaceful means to oppose the decision and file a petition with the supreme authority.
In his attempts to find a solution to the country’s unemployment problem, the minister is making a mistake if he resorts to the use of force or coercion. He was preceded in this respect by his predecessor Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, who had a louder voice.
The problem of unemployment will be resolved by in-depth studies, training and the restructuring of the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) on which billions of riyals have been spent.
I have come to know that contractors and owners of construction companies are pressing the minister to supply them with as many Saudis as possible who are willing to work as masons, painters or welders and they will be more than willing to employ them immediately at lucrative wages. Is the ministry able to meet this demand?
In my opinion, the solution to the problem of unemployment for those who have no education beyond a primary level is the optional conscription for two years. This will instill a sense of discipline in our unemployed youth and provide them with enough training to take up various professions. Think of this instead of Hafiz.