NEED TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE HUMAN DIMENSION
KUWAIT CITY, Sept 17: A number of lawmakers suggested postponing the implementation of a decision to increase medical fees for expatriates a few weeks prior to the application of new fees.
Speaking to the daily on Sunday, the lawmakers pointed out that most expatriate workers cannot afford the new medical fees considering their income; hence, the need to delay the implementation of the decision.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Dr Jamal Al-Harbi affirmed that the ministry will increase health charges for expatriates in October. He indicated that the ministry does not intend to postpone the schedule for implementation of the new charges, despite some MPs who are pushing for the postponement of the implementation.
Earlier, some lawmakers launched media campaigns against providing medical services to expatriates for free or at affordable prices. They argued that due to the continuous decline in oil prices in the global market, the country can no longer afford to shoulder such expenses so the expatriates must pay for medical services.
MP Khalid Al-Otaibi was quoted as saying, “Even though we support the increase in fees for the country to afford higher cost of medical equipment, there is an urgent need to take into consideration the human dimension and the average income of a large number of expatriates.” He also stressed “the need to reconsider some of the fees especially since most expatriates cannot afford fees for some services. In fact, the fees are much higher than those in neighboring countries and even in Europe.” He suggested postponing the application of new medical fees until the early part of 2018.
Meanwhile, MP Humood Al-Khudhair hinted on the possibility of a meeting with the minister of health to discuss the issue, adding that some of the fees will be reduced despite the agreement on imposing these fees. He disclosed, “The meeting with the health minister will be held before the application of the new fees in order to lighten the burden on expatriates. We will listen to the health ministry’s point of view. We are not against expatriates, but there is an urgent need to review the fees.”
MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei called for expanding the coverage of health insurance policies in lieu of increasing medical fees. He asserted, “A clear health insurance plan must be laid down to help expatriates cope with the rising cost of living, instead of increasing medical fees. The sponsor should pay for the insurance during renewal of the residency permits of their expatriate employees.”
It can be recalled that many lawmakers have been pushing for measures to reduce the number of expatriates, as the lopsided demographic structure is a threat to the country and an obstacle to citizens who need jobs.
The lawmakers believe that imposing taxes and higher fees for services, especially in the health sector, are some of the measures which should be taken to limit the number of expatriates considering they constitute more than two thirds of the total population.
MP Mubarak Al-Hajraf has forwarded questions to Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and State Minister for Economic Affairs Hind Al-Sabeeh and State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammed Al-Abdullah about the appointment of an Egyptian, identified as Hamed Al-Sayed Ahmed, as media program executive with a salary of KD850 although hundreds of Kuwaitis are qualified for the job. He wants to know the justifications for the appointment, basis for granting a salary of KD 850, nature of the job, programs implemented, academic qualifications and related decisions issued by the concerned sections in the Civil Service Commission (CSC). He demanded for other details like the announcement inviting Kuwaitis or children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis to apply for the position and plan of the CSC to provide jobs for Kuwaitis in the next five years.
In a related development, MP Mohammed Al-Dalal asked Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh about the Kuwaitization policy. He said the CSC issued decree number 11/2017 on rules and procedures for appointment in government jobs, stipulating the percentage of Kuwaiti employees within five years starting from the date of issuing the said decision. He added that Civil Service Law number 13/2007 stipulates the same conditions and regulations without specifying the period of completion. He asked about the number of Kuwaitis working in government agencies in 2007, the percentage of increase since the issuance of law number 13/2007 till date, and if the CSC or State Ministry for Planning prepares annual reports or conducts studies on the implementation of law number 13/2007. He requested as well for copies of CSC memorandum on the executive procedures for appointment in government jobs as per decision number 11/2017; executive, legal and administrative steps taken by the CSC in this regard; and other relevant information.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff and Agencies