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Saudi Govt may limit expat workers’ stay to 8 years

Posted on March 12, 2015
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After the dreaded Nitaqat labour-and-migration regulations, Indian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia now have a new threat staring in their faces: a Saudi Labour Ministry proposal to limit expatriate workers’ stay to eight years.

Though the Saudi Government is yet to announce the proposal, which is said to create more jobs for the Saudi youth, Saudi media has reported that the government has decided to limit the expatriate workers’ stay to eight years.

Oil prices

The drastic fall in the prices of crude oil, which squeezed the Saudi government’s revenues, and the rising unemployment are the main factors behind the move. The proposed law will be a big blow to Indians who are the largest expatriate community in Saudi Arabia. According to Indian embassy estimates, in 2013, there were more than 28 lakh Indians living in Saudi Arabia. After the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia is the largest employer of Indian workforce and chipped in handsomely in making India the biggest receiver of global remittances. Saudi Government had, in 2013, estimated that 30 per cent of the total remittances made by expatriate workers had gone to India. Keralites make up the largest chunk among the Indians — a household survey commissioned by the Kerala Government has shown that more than 4.5 lakh Keralites worked there.

Labour regulations

Non-resident Keralites in Saudi Arabia said, on Tuesday, they had been anticipating the law for some time now.

Going by the trend of the foreign labour regulations by the Saudi authorities over the past five years, this was a logical conclusion, they pointed out.

But, the immediate reason for the move is said to be the huge fall in the oil revenue. This has reduced the Saudi government’s capacity to pay the high unemployment dole bill from the current annual revenues alone.

“For a manual worker, it normally takes five years to be able to repay his debts back home, and only after eight years is he able to save money from his work in this country,” one NRK told BusinessLine.

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