Many who objectively analyze the performance of Adel Fakeih, who was appointed Minister of Labor four years ago, conclude that his ministry has failed to meet the goals set out for it.
The minister’s appointment came at a time of unlimited support from the political leadership and record government spending. The target of the ninth five-year development plan was to bring down the unemployment rate to 5.5 percent and revive the Saudization strategy. However, four years after the minister’s assumption of power, the basic goals are yet to be realized. Moreover, such goals are now becoming elusive and more difficult to achieve than at any other period in the past.
The Nitaqat and Saudization programs and the Hafiz unemployment scheme have become black spots as far as the minister is concerned. A United Nations report has pointed to the failure of the Nitaqat program. The program is based on the percentage of a company’s Saudization and that has resulted in ensuring that Saudis remain in insignificant jobs that do not have any added value.
As far as Hafiz is concerned, the report of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) makes it clear that the program, which was implemented by the Ministry of Labor following a royal decree, has not realized its goals. Similarly, the Nazaha report points out that the ministry has also failed to achieve the employment strategy goals set by the Cabinet.
The minister has also failed to achieve Saudization, which is the ministry’s first and foremost goal, to the extent that the Saudi worker is becoming a “trivial commodity” marketed in the private sector in a shameful way. Moreover, large amounts of the nation’s money are being pumped into firms simply to employ Saudis.
Furthermore, the minister has failed in rationalizing and reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign workers. There is also the problem of fake Saudization in the labor market with the failure to closely monitor and inspect companies to prevent them from falsifying their records. Additionally, the ministry has failed to support and encourage smaller firms, and consequently many of them have been driven out of the labor market at the expense of larger companies. The ministry has not solved the problem of domestic workers and has instead handed this task to large recruitment companies which has dealt a blow to ordinary Saudi families, which are in dire need of domestic help. Finally, the Sanid employment insurance system has become controversial and appears to be a colossal blunder.
The failures of the Ministry of Labor are mainly because of the lack of proper feedback, mismanagement and poor assessment.