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‘Transfer of domestic to work permit step in right direction’ Govt sponsorship needed

According to Al-Seyassah daily “director of Public Authority for Manpower Jamal Al-Dousari says the authority has collaborated with the Ministry of Interior to allow transfer of Article 20 visas of domestic workers to work permits in the private sector for three months starting from Aug 15” (see Arab Times July 25, 2014).
I recommended in many of my previous articles published on this page that the government needs to keep Kuwait a welcoming environment for our expatriate friends and partners. The recent decision to allow the transfer of Article 20 visas to work permit is a step in the right direction. Our expatriate friends and partners constitute a large percentage of our labor force; they work in both private and public sectors. They need to feel at home in Kuwait; and this can only be achieved if we lift some of the restrictions relating the transfer to work visas. 
It would even be another good step if the government establishes a Public Authority for Manpower which provides a governmental sponsorship for all expats ! The PAM or the Public Authority for expatriate manpower is supposed to be responsible for issuing work visas and to provide a government sponsorship for expats who work in the private sector. Instead of leaving the livelihood, jobs and the whole careers of expats in the hands of private individuals; a government agency provides a good and fair alternative.
Currently, most professional expats have their iqama or residency sponsorship on private companies and large corporations. However, this system of sponsorship is not effective or useful for expats. Even under the new labor law; many expats continue to fall victims to iqama exploitation.
Establishing a public authority to take care of expats residency issues will reduce the number of problems the current iqama system seems to create for thousands of expats. It is illogical and somewhat counterproductive to allow private companies or corporations to control the residency of expatriate workers.
As a case in point; many expats are required by their employers to hand in their passports. Yet, according to international labor laws it is illegal for an employer to keep the travel documents for a worker; whatever the nature of their occupation.
In other words, the government can find a way to protect the rights of expatriate workers by simply protecting them from any kind of sponsorship exploitation: an individual who works in Kuwait, whether in private houses or in companies and corporations has a right to keep his/her passport. 
In addition to allowing the transfer of Article 20 visas to work permits, why not establish a public authority for expatriate manpower? Such a government agency would provide a more practical framework to facilitate the needs of our expatriate workforce.
We can improve our local working environment, increase our local productivity, and help transform Kuwait into a successful financial and commercial regional center, if we continue to improve the situation of our hard working expats.
 By Khaled Aljenfawi

By: Khaled Aljenfawi

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