Blas Ople Foreign Policy Center, 22 June 2011
On the Saudi Arabia’s Nitaqat System
I thank the Blas Ople Center for this opportunity to give a statement on the recent Nitaqat program announced early this month by the Saudi Ministry of Labor and its Minister Engr. Adel Faqih described as an incentive program for nationalization of the workforce.
The announcement of Nitaqat has created some controversy for foreign expatriates in the Kingdom, as well as for those who intend to seek employment in Saudi Arabia.
I think we should look at some of the statements of the Saudi Labor Ministry.
They have stated that the system intends to create more jobs for Saudis, and allow foreign workers greater mobility.
In a statement, the Ministry that “the Nitaqat is not designed nor intended to threaten the stability of guest workers in the Kingdom,” adding that the robust demand for foreign labor is not going away in the foreseeable future.
The statement added that “the Ministry of Labor recognizes the role played — and continues to be played — by guest workers in the development of the country and appreciates their efforts in all fields and specialties”.
Private sector companies have been given until 11 September to comply with minimum requirements for Saudization and to correct their status, before the Nitaqat system would be implemented.
Indeed, there is greater mobility for foreign workers under Nitaqat. Under the new policy, foreign workers employed by companies that are not in compliance with the country’s Saudization quotas (categorized as “red” and “yellow” companies under Nitaqat) are free to work for companies in compliance (known as “green” companies) without acquiring permission from their employers at non-complying companies.
From the public statement on Nitaqat, it is clear that the system is complex and needs further study and scrutiny.
Here at the Embassy, we have not yet received official information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Labor on the Nitaqat system. I have tasked the Labor Attache Albert Valenciano to meet with officials of the Ministry of Labor to seek more details on the effects of Nitaqat on the employment of Filipinos here in the Kingdom, especially those who have been in the kingdom for many years. We will advise Filipinos here on any information we receive from the host government.
However, Nitaqat comes as a reminder to all of us that overseas work in any single country is not permanent. It also reminds us that should take advantage of our deployment overseas to save our income and invest for the future. It also encourages foreign workers to enhance skills and competitiveness compared to others.
In the near future, the Embassy in coordination with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and other attached services and with the cooperation of the Filipino community shall try to offer more frequent seminars on financial literacy and entrepreneurship. We must be able to plan for the future.
Mabuhay po kayo! Salamat sa organizers ng forum at sa Blas Ople Center.