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Saudi Arabia's Nitaqat scheme favouring locals to hit migrant workers from India

Saudi Arabia's Nitaqat scheme favouring locals to hit migrant workers from India

Saudi labour ministry had earlier banned foreigners from working in Saudi Arabia's shopping malls. Saudi Arabia is tackling unemployment of its citizens by cracking down on firms that do not to employ 'enough' Saudi workers.

India's reign of being the top remittance-receiving country in the world may soon be over as Saudi Arabia's revised Nitaqat or Saudisation scheme could affect thousands of Indian migrant workers in the oil-rich Kingdom.

From September 2017, only a handful of organisations with high grades - based on number of Saudi nationals employed by them and other criteria - will be able to apply for new block visas for migrant employees, TOI reported.

The new system will rank corporations on the number of Saudi citizens employed by them. Only the organisations having high grades would be able to apply for block visas.

The move comes on the back of efforts by Saudi Arabia to diversify its economy in sectors other than the oil and energy sector. Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 document calls for increasing non-oil revenues and improving spending on programs and projects.

India contributes the largest number of migrant workers in the oil rich gulf country. Indians residing in Saudi Arabia are estimated to be around 4 million. States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal send the largest number of Indians to the Saudi Kingdom.

There were only 1.65 lakh emigration clearances for Saudi Arabia in 2016, a decline by 46% from 2015. The revised Nitaqat scheme will cover private companies with six or more employees (as opposed to current criteria of 10 or more), the report said.

Saudi labour ministry had earlier banned foreigners from working in Saudi Arabia's shopping malls. Saudi Arabia is tackling unemployment of its citizens by cracking down on firms that do not to employ 'enough' Saudi workers.

Saudi's new policy is likely to hurt India's remittance collection. India had unseated China as the top remittance receiving country in the world. Indians working overseas sent home $62.7 billion last year, according to a UN report.