Inflation worries Expats Food, housing worst hit

INFLATION is the biggest worry of expatriates in Kuwait, say the results of Arab Times’ last week’s online poll. 50 % of the votes were cast for ‘Rising cost of living.’ The topic of the poll was “Issues that worry expatriates most.”

Respondents felt that food and housing rents are the areas most affected by inflation. The second highest number of voters, 26 %, went to rent hikes. Although this is part of the inflation problem, what worries expatriates more is the unlawful means adopted by some landlords to hike up rents.

People complained that landlords don’t respect the contracts and increase house rents at will. In some cases the contracts quote figures higher than the actual rent so that the rents can be increased without giving the tenants any provision to challenge.

In other instances, the landlords increase rents overshooting the amounts mentioned in the contract. They flaunt ‘Wasta’ if tenants attempt to challenge them in the courts.

About 14 % of the voters felt that renewal of residence is a nagging worry for them. From interviews Arab Times conducted, it has been understood that this is predominantly an issue for people on the visas of shell companies, because their sponsors demand extra money for visa renewals. Some expatriates have to pay as much as KD 200 for every renewal.

Others complained that their companies unduly delay renewing visas, often times up to two or three weeks past the expiry date. “During this period, we have to live like illegal residents, fearful of cops on the road.”

Traffic fines were a spot of bother for a minority of voters, 2 %, while 4 % were more concerned about travel bans. Arab Times had reported earlier that people with legal disputes, debts or unpaid bills must look up www.kuwaitcourts.gov.kw/mojweb/NGeneral/Main.jsp to verify if they have a travel ban slapped on them before traveling.

By entering one’s civil ID number in the allotted space on the webpage, citizens and expatriates can find out if they have a travel ban. “This can help people save a lot of trouble at the airport, as many people are caught unawares with legal restrictions to leave Kuwait.

Travel bans are slapped if someone files a case against the concerned person over an unpaid debt or any financial commitment that they failed to honor, no matter what the amount.

However, travel bans affect not just expatriates, but citizens too. Recently a citizen from a renowned family faced a travel ban because a Pakistani laborer had sued him over an unpaid wage of KD 120.

Travel bans are enforced if the party making the charge demands it, enabling any person to initiate a ban for almost any reason.

The bans may remain in place for a substantial period of time while the case is being investigated. People who have been charged with criminal offenses are undergoing investigation in a criminal case, are involved in unresolved financial disputes, or have unpaid debts are subject to travel bans by the Kuwaiti government.

Those who have not paid their electricity, water or telephone bills and run up huge amounts despite repeated warnings from the concerned ministry are also liable to face travel bans initiated by the ministry.
The airport has a cell by the Ministry of Justice to facilitate travel-ban payments. The cell can be used to pay up debts or bills and have the travel bans lifted with immediate effect. However, for cases that warrant arrests, a mere settling of financial liabilities will not be enough for the travel ban to be removed.
 


By: Valiya S. Sajjad Arab Times Staff

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