No fees on expats’ remittances, says Saudi finance ministry

January 23, 2017 10:06 am

A Saudi woman shows Saudi riyal banknotes at a money exchange shop, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

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 percent 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.

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Reuters
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