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89,000 visas have been granted Licensed recruitment Firms; Labor Minister Adel Fakeih said that more than 89,000 visas have been granted to licensed recruiting firms, of which 25,998 are for domestic workers. Fakeih made the posting on Twitter, adding that there are currently 16 licensed recruiting firms in the Kingdom. “There are nine firms in Riyadh, two in Jeddah, four in the Eastern Province and one in Baha.” Meanwhile, Hattab Al-Enezi, the Labor Ministry’s spokesman, said “competition between licensed firms will be to the benefit of citizens.” “This will lead to us being able to offer affordable prices to customers,” said Al-Enezi. Majed Al-Jahas, a member of the National Committee for Recruitment at the Saudi Council of Chambers, says that a 50-percent decline has been witnessed in recruitment applications due to increasing prices. Al-Enezi pointed out that recruiting firms will meet demand for domestic help in the Saudi market. “Twenty recruiting firms applied for licensing, of which 16 were approved,” he said. “The first condition implied for the granting of visas is the provision of suitable accommodation for foreign workers. Lodging should house at least 10 percent of the total number of incoming laborers.” He said that other conditions include launching a comprehensive study on the actual workforce needed in the market. He reiterated that procedures have been taken by the ministry to put a cap on the rising cost of recruiting domestic workers, which can sometimes cost as much as SR4,000. He said that such recruitment firms are managed by a specialized board of directors. “Such firms will move to realize the objectives of the Labor Ministry by providing workers, diversifying the services provided and meeting demand for domestic help.” The Ministry of Labor, he noted, is working on opening new markets for recruitment. “We have already signed an agreement with the Philippines. Agreements with other countries are also in the pipeline, including India.” “Article 25 of the list of regulations concerning foreign manpower ensures that customers are provided with skilled and qualified workers,” said Al-Enezi. Separately, the Ministry of Labor has penalized 5,640 firms in November for violating labor and residency laws and failing to provide proper addresses, during 20,703 inspection visits all over the Kingdom. Abdullah Abu Thnain, undersecretary for inspection and work environment development, said violating companies were denied the ministry’s electronic services. He said the ministry penalized 2,815 firms for violating labor regulations. Of this total, 21 percent had employers not under their sponsorship, 22 percent violated Saudization quotas, 6 percent failed to employ Saudi women, and 51 percent violated other parts of the law. The ministry denied services to 2,825 firms for failing to provide addresses. These firms have to contact the nearest labor office to correct their status, the official said. Makkah region had the most violations with 22 percent, Riyadh came second with 20 percent, Qassim was third with 17 percent, while the Eastern Province had 16 percent. The remaining violations were in other parts of the country. He said the inspections focused on wholesale and retail businesses. The campaigns, he said, would continue in all regions and cities. “The ministry has made it clear to inspectors that they have to be accurate and thorough. The ministry verifies violations recorded by inspectors while designated committees follow up with relevant agencies to implement sanctions,” he said.