Saudi foreign remittances dip 6.74% in 2017

The decrease comes following the introduction of new fees and restrictions that have seen thousands of foreign workers leave the country



The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has reported a 6.74 per cent drop in foreign remittances in 2017 compared to the previous year, according to reports.

Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat cited SAMA statistics as confirming the decrease from SAR152bn ($40.5bn) in 2016 to SAR141.6bn ($37.7bn) in 2017. This was also down on the peak SAR157bn ($41.8bn) of remittances made by foreign workers in 2015.

Foreign remittances during the last year peaked in December when there was SAR14.04bn ($3.74bn) of transactions, compared to SAR13.5bn ($3.59bn) in December 2016.

The lowest remittances were seen in September, when they dropped to SAR8.5bn ($2.26bn).

The decrease in transfers abroad comes following the July introduction of a new fee of SAR100 ($27) a month for each dependent of a foreign worker. This will increase to SAR200 ($53) a month on July 1, 2018.

Read: Over 2.2 million expat dependents registered in Saudi as new fee takes effect

An additional monthly levy of SAR300 ($80) to SAR400 ($107) per foreign worker at private sector companies is also being introduced this year.

The government is expecting to collect SAR24bn ($6.3bn) in fees applied to foreign workers in 2018.

Read: Saudi government to raise $6.3bn from 2018 expat levy

The new fees, combined with restrictions barring foreign workers from some job roles, have seen hundreds of thousands of expats leave the country over the last 12 months.

The General Authority for Statistics said in January that the number of foreign workers in the kingdom had decreased from 10.79 million in Q2 to 10.6 million in Q3, a decline of roughly 94,390 between July and September.

Read: Saudi bars foreigners from 12 job roles