Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Civil Service has tasked all ministries and government departments with ensuring that they employ no expatriate workers within three years, according to deputy minister Abdullah Al-Melfi.
The ministry said there were 70,000 expats in the public sector at the end of last year. Al-Melfi told Saudi Gazette at a meeting in Saudi last week: “There will be no expatriate workers in the government after 2020.”
The meeting, which focused on the Saudization plan by 2020, was followed by a workshop titled ‘Job Nationalisation’.
A number of senior officials from the ministry and HR experts from many ministries, departments and universities participated in the meeting and the workshop.
Al-Melfi said: “The complete nationalisation of government jobs is an important objective of the National Transformation Program 2020 and the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”
The deputy minister said the achievement of NTP and Vision 2030 entails the cooperation of all ministries and government departments.
The workshop began with a detailed report about the present situation of the Saudisation process, followed by a presentation on the procedures of job nationalization by 2020.
The focus of the meeting was to discuss the various difficulties in the nationalisation of government jobs and hear views and opinions of the representatives of the ministries and departments on this aspect.
Saudi Vision 2030
Saudi Arabia announced a ‘Vision 2030’ plan in 2016. It aims to develop its industrial and investment base and boost small- and medium-sized businesses in a bid to create more jobs for Saudis and reduce reliance on oil revenue.
In September 2016, Saudi Arabia froze salaries and reduced benefits for civil servants — who comprise the bulk of the workforce — as part of a package of austerity measures.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, restored those benefits in a royal decree last month.
In October 2016, the Kingdom raised $17.5 billion in its first international bond offering.
High on the diversification agenda is the Kingdom’s plan to sell some five per cent of state oil giant Aramco to private owners next year. In April 2017, the Kingdom cut taxes on oil companies in a bid to attract buyers.
Saudi Arabia has also announced foreigners would no longer be allowed to work in the Kingdom’s numerous shopping malls, in a measure to boost employment of Saudis.
Roughly nine million foreigners worked in the Kingdom at the end of 2015, according to the most recent official figures available.
Saudi budget deficit drops
Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit fell by 71 per cent in the first quarter of this year, Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said, after the Kingdom made sweeping spending cuts.
The deficit dropped to SAR26 billion ($6.93bn) in the first three months while compared to the same period last year following the cuts made as a result of the dramatic drop in oil revenues, Al-Jadaan told reporters during a press conference in Riyadh on Thursday.
Al-Jadaan said his ministry has seen a SAR144bn ($38.4bn) in revenues and increase by 72 per cent from last year’s figures. The minister also announced that the first quarter’s expenses reached SAR170bn ($45.3bn).
The Kingdom’s budget deficit was initially projected at SAR199bn ($53bn) for this year.
There has been 115 per cent increase in the oil revenues, reaching SAR112bn ($29.9bn) in the first quarter as against the same period in 2016.
Total non-oil revenues reached SAR32bn ($8.53bn) during the same time period.
“This is a very encouraging figure and clearly reflects our aim to achieve a balanced budget in 2020,” he said.
This is the first budget report released by the Kingdom, which said earlier this month that it would begin issuing quarterly reports to boost transparency.