Manila, Philippines – The Saudi Arabian Labor Ministry is poised to put a ceiling on remittances by foreign migrant workers to protect the economy of the oil-rich kingdom.
According to reports, Labor Minister Adel Fakieh disclosed early this week the plan to introduce a so-called “salary protection” program. Under the new program, expatriate workers must keep the bulk of their salaries within the country.
“About nine out of 10 workers in the country are foreigners,” Fakieh was quoted by local newspapers as saying. “This has led to millions of riyals being transferred back to their home countries, harming the local economy.”
Based on available data, migrant workers in Saudi Arabia were able to send home an estimated 98.2 billion Saudi rials, roughly $26.2 billion, in remittances last year, almost double the value of remittances in 2005.
Remittances to the Philippines from Saudi Arabia amounted to $1.544 billion in 2010 or around 8.2 percent of the cumulative $18.763 billion in cash sent home by all overseas Filipino workers from around the world, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) statistics.
Remittances to Pakistan from July to September this year from Saudi Arabia amounted to $854.18 million, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.
India was the world’s largest remittance recipient in 2010 with $55 billion transferred to India by expatriates. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) contributed 30 percent of India’s total remittances.
Egypt, which counts remittances as among its top sources of hard currency along with tourism and Suez Canal receipts, got $1 billion in remittances from Saudi Arabia in the last fiscal year. (Roy C. Mabasa)