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Saudi Limits Remittances

On October 27, 2011

Saudi Arabia announced recently that it will limit the income migrant workers are permitted to send home. The Labour Minister stated the new "Salary Protection Program" will prevent the 'exodus' of wealth leaving the nation in the form of remittances. He did not specify the percentage of income required to remain in Saudi, but it will be the majority.

The new law represents another mechanism of control beyond the legal and social constraints already imposed onto foreign workers. The monitoring required to enforce the law will likely require further trespass into migrants' financial privacy. The Saudi government cites concerns for the local economy to justify its infringement onto migrants' personal wealth management; In 2010, remittances compromised over $29 billion dollars. The large figure is due to the nearly 90% foreign work force.

But this dependency is a two-way street; A nation that thrives on a foreign work force should consider the needs of migrants in any labor related legislation. Many seek employment abroad - and many endure abuse- in order to provide for family in their home country. Will Saudi Arabia retain the work force it needs if migrants cannot decide how to use the fruits of their own labor?