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Sponsorship still open question Panel has reservations on Public Authority bill

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 17: The formation of a Public Authority for Labor Force will not necessarily cancel the sponsorship rights of the employer, said a source at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor on Sunday.
Speaking to the Arab Times, the source said the “new authority will be responsible for bringing in and recruiting workers upon the request of private sector employers and it will give more rights to foreign workers and make their application for residency permit and transferable residency easier”.
“Even though the authority’s powers that are stipulated by the bill seem to lay the groundwork for sponsorship cancellation, it is not yet clear if the authority, once it is formed, will undertake sponsorship in its entirety from employers,” the source said.

Moreover, rapporteur of the Health and Social Affairs Committee MP Hani Shams said the committee has reservations on the public authority bill, which was recently approved by the National Assembly in its first deliberation. He added that the committee has not yet decided whether it will refer it for a second voting round during this week’s Assembly session.

The committee has reservations on the powers that will be granted to the public authority, Shams told the Arab Times, such as it’s authority to solely bring in and recruit the labor force. He added the issue of sponsorship was not raised; therefore it is likely it will remain with the employer. “The problem is the on the authority itself and then the regulations will be formulated by the authority later.”

Shams explained that the committee requires more clarifications from the government in that regard and will wait for it before it refers the bill for a second deliberation. The complaints from the private sector representatives were on the residency transference which will be made easier for the work force.
“It is not feasible that I pay the authority to bring in a worker, then someone else offers to pay him KD 20 or 30 more and he transfers his residency,” said Shams.

Since the adoption of the new Private Sector Labor Law in 2010, the formation of an authority for foreign manpower and the revamping of the sponsorship system were much awaited by the expatriate communities of Kuwait. However, due the political disputes between the legislative and executive authorities, the government initiative met with delays.

The National Assembly on Feb 6 unanimously approved a government proposed bill on the formation of a Public Authority for Labor Force in the first deliberation.

Article 2 of the public authority formation bill says that the authority will undertake the authorities granted to the Labor Ministry in the Private Sector Labor Law (6/2010). It will recruit and supervise the expatriate labor force in the private and oil sectors, formulate the procedures to establish labor unions and employer unions and formulate the procedures and rules for work permits and the authority’s fees.

By: Nihal Sharaf Arab Times Staff

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