Saudi imposes quotas to boost recruitment of local workforce

The labour ministry yesterday launched the new "Nitaqat" (Ranges) programme to determine whether companies are entitled to employ foreign workers based on their performance in abiding by the quotas. The firms failing to fulfill the requirements will face cuts in permits for foreign workers.

The programme aimed at prodding local firms to employ Saudis as the oil-rich kingdom battles unemployment among its largely young population.

Under the programme, firms have been classified into four categories -- Excellent, Green, Yellow and Red -- according to their rates of Saudisation – now known as "nationalisation" in the ministry's new terminology, Saudi Gazette reported.

Each of the categories are subject to varying visa and appointment privileges or restrictions.
Companies deemed Excellent or Green would be granted the most privileges in visa requests and operations for non-Saudis.

Yellow listed companies are given a period of nine months as of June 11 to improve their rate of nationalisation before restrictions come into effect, while Red firms are given six months.

The population of Saudi Arabia surged last year to over 27 million, more than 30 per cent of them expatriates. The number of Indian workers in Saudi Arabia is likely to exceed two million by year's end.

Officials put the unemployment rate at 10 per cent. But the figure jumps to around 30 per cent among women.

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