Saudi finance ministry says no fees on expat workers’ remittances

Around a third of Saudi Arabia’s 30 million inhabitants are foreigners

The Saudi finance ministry said on Sunday there would be no fees applied on remittances out of the country, days after the kingdom’s advisory Shura Council said it was looking at a proposal to impose a 6 per cent levy on expatriate remittances.

Saudi Arabia is “committed to the principle of free movement of capital in and out of the kingdom, in line with international standards,” the ministry’s said on its official Twitter account.

Around a third of Saudi Arabia’s 30 million inhabitants are foreigners, many of them attracted by the absence of tax and higher pay than they can get at home.

But the country has been facing a budget squeeze from low oil prices and announced reform plans last year, which included a proposal to impose income tax on foreign workers.

Proposals endorsed by the Shura Council are not always adopted and the kingdom’s central bank governor and finance minister said in the autumn that there were no plans to tax remittances or income.

The country has already introduced a range of new fees to help close a budget gap created by low oil prices.

For example, the government has raised the cost of visas and introduced gradually rising monthly fees on expatriate workers and their dependents.

Also read: Saudi businessmen call for new expat dependents, foreign worker fees to be paid monthly