By Innovation-sa on February 26, 2018 in News

The Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) suggested eight amendments to the expat levy policy to uplift the private sector, during a meeting of CSC heads with Ali Al-Ghafis, Minister of Labor and Social Development.

Al-Ghafis granted permission to form a joint CSC and ministry committee to study the best policies to support the Kingdom’s private sector.

The suggestions made by CSC include a request to extend the deadline for expat levy from 2020 to 2025 and to exempt micro, small and medium businesses from expat levy during the first few years.

Abdullah Adeem, head of Hail Chamber of Commerce and Industry called for a study to evaluate the performance of businesses and implement Saudization accordingly rather than applying nationalization uniformly for various job sectors that may damage businesses in few sectors.

Thamer Al-Farshouti, head of Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Entrepreneurship Committee reminded that if the current policies are not updated soon, 25-30% of private enterprises are at a risk of shutting down soon. He suggested monthly payment of levy instead of annual payment.

Majed Al-Ruwaili, of Al-Jouf Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the cumulative tax bill which the ministry plans to implement will adversely affect small and medium private sector establishments.


By Innovation-sa on February 26, 2018 in News

About 12 million foreigners arrived in Saudi Arabia in 2017 for work, visit, pilgrimage, and business said Abdulrahman Al-Yousef, Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs and Director General of Visa Administration.

Of the 12 million visas issued by the Saudi government, 1.5 million were tourist visas and 50,000 were business visas. Business visas are valid for two years and permit multiple visits, he added.

Meanwhile, the General Authority for Statistics (GaStat) analysis of the third quarter of 2017 indicated that 94,390 foreign employees opted to leave the Kingdom in Q3 of 2017, largely due to Saudization in several job sectors and an exceptional increase in living cost. The number of expats working in the Kingdom’s public and private sector was around 10.79 million in Q2 which reduced to 10.6 million in Q3.

At the same time, the number of visas issued during the third quarter of 2017 totaled 509,180 with 22.3 percent visas issued in the public sector and 39.9 percent in the private sector. Around 37.8 percent visas were issued to recruit domestic employees, the report added.


By Innovation-sa on February 18, 2018 in News

The Ministry of Commerce and Investment assured on Thursday that Saudi women can start their own business without the permission of a male guardian.

The legal procedures to set up a business will be the same for both Saudi men and women. Women will no longer face any additional formalities at the government agencies like the requirement to submit consent of a guardian before setting up their own business.

Moreover, women no longer need to visit a lawyer to document the founding of the company. The procedures can be done electronically through the Abshir system.

The #No_Need campaign, launched by Taysir, is gaining publicity and aims to streamline the formalities to set up a new business for Saudi women.

Abdul Rahman Al-Hussein, the official spokesperson of the ministry, tweeted using the hashtag #No_Need in Arabic, “No need for a guardian’s permission. Saudi women are free to start their own business freely”.

Nojood Al-Qassim, head of the Department of Personal Status, Family Legacies and Women’s and Children’s Rights, believes that this decision to empower women is in line with the directives of Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which aims to activate the role of women in society and to give them full rights and the rights guaranteed by the shariah.


By Innovation-sa on February 8, 2018 in News

The domestic liquidity of Saudi banks has improved and hit a record high SR 457 billion by the end of 2017, despite restrained growth and challenging business conditions in Saudi Arabia, according to Sectoral Comment issued by Moody’s Investors Service on February 1.

The domestic liquid assets of banks in Saudi Arabia saw a growth of 11 percent in 2017 which equaled to 20 percent of bank assets. Moreover, the ratio of reserves to total deposits reached 14.8 percent, it’s highest since 2012.

The contraction of 1 percent in bank loans and 43 percent increase in the bank holdings of domestic government bonds led to a positive trend despite a sluggish 0.1 percent deposit growth.

The Saudi bank’s diminished deposit growth, standing at around 1 percent since 2015, was led by a decline in government balances amid a fiscal deficit due to lower oil prices and a reduction in deposits from the private sector because of government spending cuts, payment delays and weakening economic growth. These developments tightened the banking system liquidity.

However, by late 2016, credit growth decelerated as the government cleared the majority of overdue payments to contractors and this led to slight improvement in liquidity of banks.

Funding squeeze further eased in 2017, when the government increased its recourse to international debt issuance to finance its deficit, supporting a 12 percent increase in public sector deposit inflows to the banking system, versus a 10 percent decline in 2016, which mitigated the 3 percent contraction in deposit volumes from the private sector in 2017.

During 2017, bank loans contracted 1 percent, mainly due to government’s fiscal consolidation measures, which adversely affected economic growth, credit demand, and banks’ lending appetite. Loans for building and construction sector, which are heavily dependent on public spending, declined by around 15 percent.  However, the loan-to-deposit ratio remained stable at 86 percent, after increasing to 87 percent in 2016 from 79 percent in 2014.

In 2017, banks had the opportunity to transfer their excess liquidity to high-quality government investments through successive sovereign debt issuance, notably Sukuk issuance. As a result, government bonds made up 56 percent of Saudi bank’s domestic liquid assets which was only 27 percent in 2015.

Moody’s believes that banks in Saudi Arabia will benefit from the SR 72 billion economic stimulus programme announced by the government to support private sector and that the Saudi economy will recover over the next 12-18 months. With improved liquidity, Moody’s also expects banks in Saudi Arabia to improve lending by around 4 percent in 2018.



By Innovation-sa on February 8, 2018 in News

The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) once again reminded employers of domestic workers to issue prepaid salary cards for their workers as soon as they enter the Kingdom. The ministry also called on employers who already have domestic workers under their sponsorship in the Kingdom to issue salary cards within 6 months.

With the introduction of prepaid payroll card, the ministry’s wage protection system intends to protect the rights of all parties involved in the contract – both employers and domestic workers – and electronically document employment contracts for these workers, said Khalid Aba AL-Khail, the ministry’s official spokesman.

The program will ensure that wages are transferred to the worker’s bank account and hence increase job security, improve work atmosphere and promote principles of human rights for domestic workers.

Employers can issue prepaid payroll card by registering for the service at a bank, followed by creating an electronic recruitment contract specifying the worker’s monthly salary at Musaned online portal ( Once the details are filled up, employers should save the contract on the website before taking a print out.

The ministry urged recruitment offices and companies to raise awareness about the same to their clients and domestic workers, and any violations can be reported by calling the customer care center at 19911.



By Innovation-sa on February 8, 2018 in News

The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) updated Labor Law regulations to protect employee rights in the Kingdom. The decision, approved by Minister of Labor and Social Development, Ali Al-Ghafees, has been formulated in view of the current changes and developments in the labor market.

According to the revised table, employers violating the Labor Law provision with regards to employee vacation will be subject to a penalty of SR 10,000.

Employers breaching the revised Article 38 of Labor Law by hiring foreign employees to work in a profession other than the one specified in their work permit will be fined SR 10,000.

Failure to open a file of the company or update data regarding the company at the Labor Office will result in a fine of SR 10,000.

Employers do not have the right to keep the employee’s passport, iqama and medical insurance without his consent and doing so will result in a fine of SR 2000.

A fine of SR 10,000 will be imposed on employers if his company do not have organizational regulations or do not conform to them.

Employers must submit the Wage Protection file to the Labor Office every month and failure to do so will result in a penalty of SR 10,000.

Employers who fail to meet health and occupational safety requirements of its staff will be fined SR 15,000.

Any penalty issued by the government must be settled within a month after its issuance, and failure to do so will result in doubling of the fine. Moreover, fine will also be doubled if the violation is repeated.



By Innovation-sa on February 4, 2018 in News

The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) has implemented the 13th phase of the Wage Protection System (WPS) on establishments whose workers range between 30 and 39 starting from 1st of February 2018.

Under this phase, 14,000 establishments will have to upload wage files of 477,402 workers according to the ministry’s statistics.

MLSD spokesman Khaled Abalkhail clarified that the ministry emphasized its keenness to implement the protection on all private firms to ensure wages are paid on time, define wage scales for all occupations and reduce labor issues between employers and workers. He added the ministry will not lose momentum to enforce the system on every firm as timetables are set forth.

According to the sanctions and penalties mentioned in the labor law, if the establishment fails to pay workers’ wages on time, it will be fined SR 3,000 which can be increased by the number of workers, Abalkhail said as well.

Abalkhail added if the employer fails to upload wage files on the system within two months from the date of enforcement, he would be banned from the ministry’s services, except for issuance or renewal of work permits.

If the establishment is late to upload them for three months, it will be denied access to all the ministry’s services, and the workers can transfer their service to other establishments without their former employer’s approval and despite their valid work permits, the spokesman said further.

Recently, the ministry unveiled the WPS as part of the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020. It aims to create a safe and suitable work environment in the private sector as it will increase transparency, protect the contractual relationships among involved parties and raise the compliance of small and medium-sized enterprises to the system.

The employers can visit the ministry’s website and review upcoming phases of implementing the WPS. They can also register with the program in advance as the demo registration will not result in imposing any sanctions on them.

The coming obligatory dates to submit the wages files to the MLSD, as below:

Obligatory Dates # Workers
1-May-18 20-29
1-Aug-18 15-19
1-Nov-18 11-14
Will be determined later 1-10



By Innovation-sa on January 30, 2018 in News

The General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT) urged Value Added Tax (VAT) registered establishments with more than SR40 million turnover annually to file their tax returns on a monthly basis, while those with an annual turnover equal to or less than SR40 million should file tax returns every three months.

Enterprises whose supplies of goods and services total SR40 million annually must file tax returns for January before the end of February while those whose supplies of goods and services total SR40 million or less are required to file their first tax return before the end of April.

A fine of 5 to 25 percent of the tax amount will be imposed on businesses and enterprises that fail to file tax returns on time, in addition to suspension of several government services.

The tax return form specified by GAZT has two separate sections; the former is for the tax due on revenues (output tax) whiles the latter is for the tax due on purchases (input tax) and businesses must conform to this form.

Enterprises will automatically be issued tax invoices which specify the invoice number and the tax amount that is due. Once issued, enterprises must pay the tax amount to GAZT’s bank account through SADAD online payment portal or ATM.


By Innovation-sa on January 30, 2018 in News

Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) has reduced the average time required to issue investment licenses from 53 hours to less than 4 hours.

The recent initiatives undertaken by SAGIA to restructure the processes, reduce the number of documents required, and train and qualify cadres has contributed to this notable progress.

The restructured processes include issuing, amending and renewing investment licenses. Previously, eight documents were required to get an investment license which has now reduced to two – financial statements and commercial registers attested by Saudi embassy from the place where the company seeking investment license is located.

The official website of SAGIA provides investors the facility to renew investment licenses themselves.

Several initiatives are undertaken by SAGIA to attract foreign investors to the Kingdom. Since the regulations have been eased, SAGIA granted 17 licenses to foreign investors in the last two weeks.



By Innovation-sa on January 30, 2018 in News

Saudi Minister of Labor and Social Development Dr.Ali Al-Ghafees announced on Monday the Saudization of 12 new sectors starting from September this year.

Khaled Aba Al-Khail, official spokesperson for the Ministry, said the ministerial decree was issued as the Kingdom strives to provide more employment opportunities for Saudis in the private sector and reduce the rate of unemployment among Saudi men and women which currently stands at 12.8 percent.

The 12 sales activities that will be off-limits for expatriates from the beginning of the next Hijri year include: watches, eye-wear, medical equipment and devices, electrical and electronic devices, automobile spare parts, building materials, carpets, car and motorcycles, home furniture and ready-made office material, ready-made garments, kids wear and men’s accessories, kitchenware and confectioneries.

Aba Al-Khail pointed out that the new decision will not conflict with other memoranda of understanding signed earlier with regional governorates to achieve Saudization. The feminization of shops, which currently is in its third phase, will continue as planned, he added.

Furthermore, to support and coordinate Saudization in the new sectors, a committee will be formed with committee members drawn from Ministry of Labor and Social Development, Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF), and the Social Development Bank.

The nationalization of these new activities will be implemented in three stages. From September 11, sale of cars and motorcycles, readymade garments, children’s and men’s accessories, home and office furniture, and kitchenware will be saudized. From November 9, the rules will be extended to the sale of electronics and electric appliances, watches and eyewear while sale in the remaining sectors will be Saudized from January 7, 2019.