With only ten days left of the 90-day grace period announced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for illegal Ethiopian immigrants to leave that country, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MoFEC) Wednesday amended a directive that would grant duty-free privileges for returning citizens. Included in the latest directive are seven types of home appliances.
It is to be recalled that some 21 items were subsumed in the original directive.
The directive reads that given the income level of the home-bound Ethiopians, it would be difficult for them to pay the requisite tax and customs levied upon imported merchandise. The ministry noted it issued the directive on account of that.
In this respect, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been mandated to verify the legitimacy of beneficiaries of the relaxed rules.
The circular will stay in effect until the expiration of the grace period, it was learnt.
“We are now distributing the circular to our branch offices,” a senior director with the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority told The Reporter.
In a related development, government officials here have expressed concern over the small number of Ethiopians willing to make use of the Saudi amnesty. It is estimated that some 200,000 illegal Ethiopians currently live in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
Ethiopian Airlines has also disclosed plans to increase the number of weekly flights to KSA with a view to accommodating the potential high demand for its services.
This is not the first time that Saudi authorities issued marching orders to Ethiopian migrants illegally residing in the kingdom . In 2013, Ethiopia repatriated over 100,000 of its citizens from Saudi Arabia following a violent crackdown on illegal migrant workers there. At that time, KSA is said to have expelled close to 2.5 million illegal immigrants.
This time around, Saudi Arabia proposed a new immigration system whereby five million foreign workers of all nationalities would be deported in a move it said would help rid the country of illegal immigration.
Ghanaians are among Africans affected by the latest clamp-down on illegal immigrants.