Is the War Against Tasattur Failing?

2015-0223 Is the War Against Tasattur Failing

THE illegal practice of foreigners running businesses registered under the name of Saudis in return for fixed amounts of money known locally as “tasattur” has continued to increase despite the efforts of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported.

Expatriate workers continue to flout Saudi laws by engaging in tasattur, something that makes them and the Saudis who help them susceptible to being fined and penalized if caught.

The practice negatively impacts the Kingdom’s economy and security, and as a result the Ministry of Commerce and Industry regularly holds seminars to raise awareness about the problem.

The ministry has also named and shamed individuals caught involved in the practice. In spite of this, tasattur continues to thrive as Saudis view it is as an easy way to become rich.

Dr. Talal Al-Bakri, a former Shoura Council member, said some Saudis place their personal interests and gain before the greater interests of the nation by circumventing the law.

“Perhaps they do this because they can easily get away with it. Tasattur seems to be prevalent and those involved often get away because of their contacts with officials in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry,” he added.

Tawfiq Al-Suwailem, director of the Al-Khaleej Center for Economic Research and Consultation, said the Saudi market is open to142 countries and has been so for the past 40 years.

“Workers in the retail sector come from over 100 countries. Therefore, it is expected that some negative practices and violations will occur and Saudi citizens will be somehow involved,” he added.

“Tasattur has permeated many sectors lately but continues to dominate the retail sector. More inspections should be carried out to spot Tasattur and report it,” said Al-Suwailem.

An anti-tasattur law was introduced in 2004 but it has not been enforced properly. That is why tasattur has been on the rise.

Aside from that, many people are unaware of the law and there are no accurate statistics about the volume of loss caused by Tasattur.

It is, however, estimated that huge amounts of money earned from the practice are transferred abroad.

Abdulrahman Al-Qarni, a media expert, stressed the importance of eradicating all tasattur activities and that members of the public can play a role in achieving this.

“Members of the public should report tasattur to the authorities without hesitation and delay,” said Al-Qarni.

Salih Al-Aqeel, assistant undersecretary at the Ministry of Justice and professor at Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University, said there is no harm in reporting tasattur to the authorities.

“If you tell the authorities about people who engage in these practices, then you have not harmed them and you haven’t committed something impermissible in the Shariah because those people are harming the country and violating the Kingdom’s laws,” Al-Aqeel said.

Abdullah Al-Aqeel, former deputy chairman of the Executive Board at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Shaqra Governorate, said all countries across the world introduce laws in the interests of their citizens and the Kingdom is no exception.

“Anyone, whether a citizen or an expatriate resident, who violates the laws deserves to be penalized.

Citizens and expatriates should cooperate with the government and report any tasattur they may come to know about,” said Al-Aqeel.

“The Kingdom does not prohibit people from working as long as they follow and comply with our laws and regulations.

Violating the laws to make quick money is not tolerable and violators will be punished,” he added.

Businessman Ayedh Abu Qafrah said it is difficult to identify a tasattur business as it is near impossible to know what agreement the Saudi and expatriate worker has made.

“Saudization and tasattur are interconnected. The former can only be achieved when the second has been completely eradicated,” said Abu Qafrah.

He added that many of the expatriates involved in tasattur tend to hire their own fellow nationals in the same business.

“One of the solutions is to formulate agreements that protect the rights of citizens and expatriates and save the country from suspicious activities that take place in the dark,” he said, adding that there is a need to control money transfers and track original sources of cash.


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