SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Economy Minister: We're Sticking to Expat Fees for Now

December 20, 2018

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia will keep its policy of fees on foreign workers but is open to reconsidering them if there’s an economic need, Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed Al Tuwaijri told Bloomberg on Wednesday.

"We got mixed feedback so far on the expat fees," Tuwaijri said in an interview in Riyadh. "The position today is business as usual -- we are sticking to our position."

Tuwaijri said the government was "willing to look at some of these fees" if there’s a specific sector or industry that would benefit from a change and it would help meet broader goals, such as promoting the balance of payments or creating jobs for Saudis.

The kingdom is planning a stimulus package next year that is both "financial and regulatory," Tuwaijri said. The kingdom expects to privatize seven companies in the first quarter of 2019 and 19 in total next year, Tuwaijri added.

"We have identified five sectors where we studied the private sector appetite for those and it’s there," he said.

"Our focus is on the local private sector because we think we have a huge potential to grow regionally, and some of them even globally," Tuwaijri said. "But we also have determined strategic partnership criteria for some nations, and we’re in active dialogue with those nations to bring in their private sector."

Saudi Arabia remains attractive, he said. "If you look the opportunities themselves in Saudi Arabia, they’re still valid, very competitive and appealing," Tuwaijri said.

Asked about delays in government payments to private sector contractors, Tuwaijri said the finance ministry had paid more than 99 percent of its dues on time this year.

"We do realize we are dealing with residuals from the past,” he said, adding that we are pushing for everybody to be paid and move on.


December 20, 2018
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