Dhaka, Bangladesh
Manpower market squeezing in KSA

Manpower market squeezing in KSA

News Report Bangladesh may gradually lose labour market in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that has planned to replace over 1.2 million expatriates working in certain sectors with local residents within 2022, sources said. Saudi Arabia's malls and bazaars are changing as retailers embrace a shift in shopping habits brought about by reforms to diversify the economy away from oil. Reforms to bring women into the work force and encourage entertainment has lifted other types of spending. The reforms are part of push by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, to wean the economy off oil. He wants to create 1.2 million jobs for Saudis by 2022, with many in the retail sector. "People are opting for budget goods and reforms enabling the re-opening of cinemas, greater recreational activities, as well as women being allowed to drive, may mean there is a shift in how consumers are spending," said Jason Tuvey, an analyst at Capital Economics, according to news agencies. Saudi retail giants such as Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co and Savola Group are having to adapt. "Retailers are reviewing their portfolios, be it products or stores, to reflect changing consumer patterns," said an executive of one major Saudi retailer. Alhokair has the Saudi license for the Zara fast- fashion chain, part of Spain's Inditex group, and plans to increase the number of stores to 45 by 2020 from around 30. It also opened the first Saudi branch of Inditex's affordable store Lefties last year. One of Alhokair's businesses also recently secured a $1.9 billion loan to be used in part to build new malls. The company has not detailed how it will fill those malls, but bankers expect them to include more entertainment offerings, such as cinemas and restaurants, in addition to stores. Overall consumption, which accounts for about 40 percent of gross domestic product, has stayed robust, averaging 4 percent a year in the past five years. Bangladesh exported 187,223 workers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the January- September of the current calendar year as against 551,308 workers sent in 2017. Bangladesh manpower export market may suffer this year against the backdrop of political tension in the middle-east countries, budget cut in mega projects, economic slowdown and policy of recruiting local manpower in the oil producing countries, sources said. Bangladesh exported 555,393 workers to various counties during the January-August period in 2018 with KSA holding top destination for manpower export with 187,223 workers, followed by Malaysia with 142,080 workers. In 2017, Bangladesh sent 1008,525 workers as against 555,881 workers sent in 2016. The present trend shows that manpower export this year may drop by 15-20 per cent as middle-east countries are going through economic turmoil, sources in the Bureau of Manpower and Employment and Training (BMET) and Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agency (BAIRA) said. Expatriate Bangladeshis sent 13,526.84 million US dollars in 2017, 13,609.77 million US dollars in 2016 and 15,270.99 million US dollars in 2015 home Expatriate Bangladeshis sent 11,877.42 million US dollars home during the January-September period of the current calendar year, according to Bureau of Manpower and Employment and Training (BMET). As of September, Saudis must make up 70 percent of the workforce in 12 retail areas including selling furniture, car spare parts, sweets, watches and eyeglasses. The government also plans to ease restrictions on e- commerce. This could bring further change to the sector. "The country's young population, high connectivity rates and advanced infrastructure are projected to propel the growth of e-commerce sales over the next several years," said yStats.com, an e-commerce intelligence firm. The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture on Monday started implementing the Sayad (Fisherman) project in cooperation with various government agencies to motivate young Saudis to work on fishing vessels, according to Saudi Gazette report Ahmad Al-Ayedah, undersecretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, said, "It is one of the most important national projects, as it enables Saudi citizens to master fishing." He called on fishermen and boat owners to implement the project and start attracting young Saudis to master the trade. Al-Ayedah said those who initiate and implement the project now would receive several incentives. He gave a deadline of six months for those who cannot start immediately. The Sayad project was developed in partnership with various bodies including the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the Cooperative Societies Council, the National Fisheries Sector Development Program, the General Directorate of Border Guard, the Saudi Human Resources Gateway, the Agricultural Development Fund and the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation.

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