KARWAR: The new expatriate dependent fee policy introduced by the Saudi Arabian government as part of its Fiscal Balance Programme has badly affected lakhs of people from other countries living there. Hundreds of people from Bhatkal, who were in Saudi for decades, are now returning to their hometown.
After 1980s, hundreds of people from Bhatkal went to Saudi Arabia to earn their livelihood. Many of them settled down there itself. For the last 4-5 years, the expat levy has been increased by almost three times than previous years. From last year, the Saudi government has introduced new expat levy, under which the dependents have to pay a large amount to the Saudi government every month.
Previously, it was Saudi Riyal (SR) 200 (`3,668) per month for working man and SR 100 (`1834) for each dependent (It is known as family tax). From July, each dependent of expats should pay SR 200 per month and working man has to pay SR 300-400 per month. That means, annually each working man has to pay `88,000 and `44,000 for each dependent.
Hafeez Askiri (51), who was in Jeddah along with his wife and five children, was working in a Ford car showroom as accountant for the last three decades. He said after the Saudi economy collapsed, its government introduced various taxes and levies on expats in the last 4-5 years. “Earlier, we were somehow managing. But from last year, they introduced new levy on expatriate, which is a heavy burden on us. Therefore, I quit my job and came back to Bhatkal,” he said.
They wanted to remove expats from jobs and deploy locals. Therefore, after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman assumed the office, he started introducing high taxes. Working expats’ levy was supposed to be paid by the company which employed them. If the company employs expats less or equal to the number of locals, they have to pay SR 300 per month for each expat employee. If the number of expats the company employed exceeds the number of locals, they have to pay SR 400 for each expat. Therefore, many companies asked expats to quit their jobs, he said.
Hafeez Askiri, who is the bread winner of his family, is now unemployed. For the last one week, he is searching for a job in other gulf countries from home. “If I get a job, I will go. If not, I will start a business in Bhatkal,” he said.