Sponsorship System Stays

Contrary to earlier reports that Saudi Arabia is planning to abolish the sponsorship system for migrant workers, a senior official at the Ministry of Labor denied that such plans exist:

“There is no intention of canceling the sponsorship system,” the official said denying reports in business circles that the government was considering abolishing the system.

“Abolishing the kafeel system for foreign manpower will create chaos in the labor market,” the ministry official was quoted by a local daily as saying.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ministry had discussed three options for boosting the process of Saudization including unification of wages, canceling the sponsorship system and raising the costs of employing foreign manpower.

“The ministry dismissed the first two ideas and adopted the third one,” he said.

As columnist Sultan al-Amer noted, it is hard to fix the labor market problems as long as the sponsorship system is still in place because it gives immense power to employers over employees.