Saudi Arabia's interior ministry fired out a last warning Monday at employers of illegal workers, stressing they were liable to both a prison term and a fine if they failed to sort out their employees' papers.
The ministry said company bosses and businessmen found to be employing illegal labour after August 30, the final deadline for papers to be straightened out, face a three-year jail term and a 13,335-dollar fine for each worker illegally employed.
The punishments also apply to Saudi and foreign bosses who employ expatriate labour in a field other than that specified on their work permits as well as those allowing expatriates to strike out on their own, the ministry said.
The ministry also warned in the statement carried by the official SPA news agency of sanctions against Saudis who lodge or rent accommodation to foreigners working illegally.
More than 350,000 illegal workers have left Saudi Arabia since an April 20 amnesty exempting those with invalid residency permits from a hefty fine and possible imprisonment.
Saudi authorities had warned six months in jail, a 26,600-dollar fine and deportation after a deadline to legalise their status ran out on July 2.
The Gulf state launched a campaign against illegal immigrants in October 1997. About 1.5 million people, mostly from the Indian subcontinent, have since been expelled, according to official figures.
Meanwhile, a newspaper reported Monday that Riyadh had decided to increase the costs of obtaining or renewing expatriates' residence and work permits in the kingdom.
Foreign workers will now have to pay 600 rials ($160), up from 500 rials ($133) before, for a residence visa, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat said, quoting a royal decree.
The cost of a work permit has increased threefold to 150 rials ($40) a year from 50 rials ($13.30) previously.
The sums generated by these increases will be allocated to a special fund "for the development of human resources" which has as its goal the creation of new jobs for Saudi nationals, the paper said.
The fund, created by the cabinet on July 21, particularly aims "to prepare the Saudi workforce for work in the private sector."
Foreign workers, mainly Asian, make up about one-third of Saudi Arabia's population of 18 million. — (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )