In a wealthy country that enjoys security, opulence and high individual income, it is natural for the people — in this case Kuwait, to live in comfort and security; hence, it is possible for some types of jobs to be done by expatriates, because such jobs are categorized as low income that do not reflect the standard or level of citizens.
In this regard, it is necessary to have foreign workforce in the country doing the kind of work that has less financial returns than those of citizens, especially in manual labor, vocational and technical jobs.
At the same time, we should not minimize the value of simple manual jobs despite its low returns, because such jobs are very important in sustaining both public and special services. For instance, a citizen could earn a decent living if he masters and manages homes repair jobs in its various categories.
In many countries, if not all, simple jobs are the basis of businesses that bring wealth. There are various examples of small businesses growing into majors businesses, but let us leave that for another article.
In my opinion, the intention of government in several of its decisions pertaining to new service charges for expatriates, including recent decisions to increase fees for health services bear high importance to expatriates, regardless of the justifications for such increase and rationality of the statements issued by some members of the parliament in that regard.
Although, any given country has the right to practice its responsibilities, I believe the above-stated decisions are unfair, and unfairness usually ends with nothing good. The categories of people negatively affected by the decision are those I mentioned earlier as having low income jobs who represent the majority of expatriates in the country.
If there is any need to impose or increase service charges of any kind on expatriates, it should be done in a gradual and rational manner or it should be based on individual income, because it is possible to amend residency laws and substitute the current health insurance with one that is advanced to prove its usefulness and feasibility.
Nonetheless, such amendments and changes should take into account the rights of both parties involved — the State and residents. It’ll be possible to resolve many snags the relevant bodies encounter, and at the same time, achieve reassurance and stability for expatriates.
The expatriate has rights just as the State also has rights! How beautiful and wonderful it would be if the issue is dealt with in a calm humanitarian manner to achieve public welfare for all concerned parties.
In advanced countries, issues of this nature are dealt with in a legal manner bearing in mind the situation of both parties. It’s obvious the current health insurance system needs to be replaced by one that is more advanced — even if it will attract slight and reasonable increase of charges, as long as it protects the rights of all.
I know exactly that most of the grievances emit from those receiving health services while on temporary visa (visit visas) but this can be dealt with in a calm manner by enacting legislation to ensure fairness.
Kuwait is a country of peace and prosperity, and many families in the world have improved their financial conditions by working in Kuwait, and many continue to retain beautiful memories of this land known for generosity. I also understand the reason for the State’s decision to impose certain charges.
Any decision taken on this issue needs to maintain a balance — if possible—so that nobody is aggrieved, and whatever needs to be changed should be for the welfare of the nation and those living in it.
By Yusuf Awadh Al-Azmi