Saudi Arabia could generate up to SAR2.6bn ($693m) a year from fees levied on dependents of expatriates working in the kingdom, an official has said.
The fee, which took effect on July 1, requires expatriates to pay SAR100 per month for each of their dependents.
According to data from Saudi’s National Information Center, the number of registered dependents currently stands at 2,221,551, local daily Arab News reported on Wednesday.
“If fees on each dependent are paid at SAR100, it will yield SAR222m per month, or SAR2.66bn per year,” the paper quoted Khalid Al Saikhan, assistant director general of the Directorate of Passports, as saying.
The fees are required to be paid for a one year, and are mandatory for expatriates to renew their residence permits and have their exit/re-entry visas issued.
“Four Saudi commercial banks are technically ready to deal with the new fees, while the remaining banks will follow suit and upgrade their technical platforms soon in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA),” said Al Saikhan.
He also confirmed that those expats who have already renewed their residence permits will have to pay the fees for the remaining period of the validity of their permits in “due course”.
The monthly fee is further set to increase to SAR200 for each dependent from July 2018, SAR300 in 2019 and SAR400 in 2020.
While the fee is mainly aimed to help Saudi boost its revenues, analysts have also opined that it will reduce the kingdom’s expatriate population, reported Saudi Gazette.
An economist was quoted by local daily Al-Riyadh as saying that the fee will cut “surplus” foreign workers in the country.
“There is a surplus of expatriate workers in the country. The new fees will decrease the number of expatriates in the country by 20 per cent. A surplus of expatriates has been an economic burden over the past few years. Every expatriate costs the government SAR50 a day in electricity, gas, water and other expenses,” claimed Mohammad Al-Qahtani.
However, other analysts have said the new fees would have an “adverse” impact on the private sector.