According to a news report by Al- Anba daily “Manpower Public Authority has issued a decision to give an employee the right to apply for transfer of his work permit after three years of its issuance without the approval of his employer” (Arab Times, April 1, 2016).
Allowing expat employees in the private sector to transfer their work permits after completing three years without needing the approval of their former employer is a step in the right direction.
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.
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. Improving the situation of our expats will benefit our country.
These hard working people deserve our respect and appreciation. Expatriates help us as Kuwaitis through their positive contributions to our local economy.
Ultimately, having a government body, which becomes responsible for issuing work visas and Iqama prevents exploitation. Our ultimate goal is to keep Kuwait as a welcoming environment for those who wish to contribute positively to our economy and local culture.
A lawabiding, hardworking expat should feel at home in Kuwait, without fearing to fall victim to any kind of exploitation.
By Khaled Aljenfawi