KUWAIT CITY, March 30: The Indian ambassador to Kuwait said the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi is ‘soon’ expected to visit Kuwait upon invitation of his Kuwaiti counterpart HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. Also expected to visit India, at his convenience, is HH Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah, at the invitation of Indian Council for Cultural Relations under the distinguished visitors program. Speaking to the press at the embassy premises, the Indian Ambassador Sunil Jain said Kuwait and India will hold a joint ministerial meeting on Sept 18-20, 2017, that will cover various areas of cooperation between countries including petrochemicals, aviation, visa waiver agreement, cooperation in the oil and gas sector, etc.
The Indian side will be led by Minister of State for External Affairs N.J. Akbar and the Kuwaiti side will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Anas Al-Saleh. He added, prior to the ministerial meeting two working groups representing both sides will meet on medical and oil and gas cooperation issues.
The envoy said, India has been relentlessly working for the past seven years for what he called ‘big investments’ from Kuwait to India in the petrochemicals sector. He added the Petrochemicals Industries Company (PIC) of Kuwait will be working with India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Limited to look for investment opportunities in India’s petrochemical sector.
In another area, the ambassador said, “We are working to finalize the visa waiver agreement between both countries for diplomats, government officials and those holding diplomatic passports. He disclosed in the area of aviation, both countries will work out the modalities between Air India and Kuwait Airways since the former does not fly to vital Indian destinations including Mumbai, Trivandrum and Delhi while the latter does.
The agreement between both airlines will help commuters from both countries, he added. He disclosed to improve the air connectivity between both countries. India’s Indigo and GoAir airlines have been given the green light by Indian Civil Aviation authorities to start flights to Kuwait. On the issue of improvement of consular services, the ambassador informed, there are plans to hire the services of one more outsourcing center to meet the increasing demand for services. He added, instead of three, there will be six outsourcing centers all over Kuwait and which will render passport, visa and attestation services. He said the visa and attestation services will be completed the same day if applications are submitted in the morning.
In a day or two, he said, applications will be invited from prospective agencies who would want to provide these services. He disclosed, over the past year services has increased and said last year 96,000 passports were issued (an increase of 10 percent) and 14,000 visas to Kuwaitis and other nationals and 95,000 attestation services.
Speaking of one of the two thorny issues, the Indian envoy said, the embassy has been doing it best and meeting the concerned government authorities to ensure 3,000 workers who are working for an unidentified well-known contracting company are paid their salaries. He added, assurances have been given by the concerned minister that the salaries of some of the workers will be paid by the concerned government institution where they are working under the contractor within a few days. On the issue of nurses, the ambassador said, efforts have been exerted by the Indian and Kuwaiti sides to streamline the recruitment so that those selected don’t pay money to middlemen, although of late it is believed the middlemen have been finding loopholes to send nurses to Kuwait.
He headed, the deputy head of mission of the Indian Embassy, Subhasis Goldar has been meeting the Minister of Health Jamal Al-Harbi on this issue. Meanwhile, the Indian CBI has taken into custody M.U.V., 50, the main accused in million-dollar nursing recruitment scam. He was arrested by plainclothesmen after he landed at one of the airports in India yesterday from a GCC country. The Interpol had earlier issued a red corner notice against the man. The suspect is believed to be the owner of Al Zarafa Travels and Manpower Consultants Pvt Ltd. Al Zarafa is said to have carried out the recruitment under a contract with a Kuwait-based agency for recruiting 1,200 nurses for the Ministry of Health, Kuwait.