DESPITE the delay of the Minister of Commerce Dr. Abdullah Al-Salman in referring the Director General of the Public Authority for Manpower Ahmed Al-Mousa to investigation for the issuance of his arbitrary decision to bar the renewal of work permits for expatriates who have reached sixty years of age, such a move came as a blessing.
However, this step is considered incomplete by most of the people of this country, as it has to be accompanied by the opening of the “system” to correct the series of major problems caused by unqualified officials through the issuance of decisions that violate the Constitution and the law, and even infringe upon the powers of the government and the National Assembly.
On the other hand, the Cabinet, through its army of legal advisers, should have realized from the start the negative impact this infamous decision would have on the country’s reputation in the international spectrum, as well as the confusing effects of the plan to transform Kuwait into a global financial and commercial hub.
It is unfortunate that this did not happen because His Highness the Prime Minister and his esteemed Cabinet were preoccupied with other things, far from what the people of this country aspire to. Had it not been for the press, the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and some MPs highlighting the issue and raising their voices by referring this unjust and harmful decision in Kuwait to the Fatwa and Legislation Department, the violation would have continued until time decided otherwise.
Nevertheless, it may be useful to remind His Highness the Prime Minister of some figures and statistics in order to refresh the memory of the Cabinet. It today demands the reconsideration of all the decisions that caused the closure of the country, and not wait for letters from this or that individual, or the bureaucracy that brought calamities upon us over the past decades.
In the language of numbers, more than 80,000 of this segment live in 80,000 apartments owned by Kuwaitis. Add to this a similar number of cars, and equally high rate of consumption of food items and other services. The profits from all of these flow into the pockets of the citizens.
This segment of people have long experiences, and many of them own companies and trading activities. It is true that they are all under the names of Kuwaitis, but in the end they contribute to moving the national economy and benefitting the Kuwaitis.
Unfortunately, as soon as that stupid decision was issued in August last year, they began preparing themselves to move to neighboring countries such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and others. This meant losing a good percentage of the financial returns for the local market.
This loss was not realized at the time the decision was prepared, as it seemed to have an interest other than the one declared for its issuance, perhaps including the revitalization of the visa trade, which has become a target for all the weak of souls for illicit gain. The international treaties and agreements that prohibit human trafficking are ignored, and it is one of the reasons for the inclusion of Kuwait on the blacklist for years. This is because we are in “this Kuwait where nothing changes”… No one is held accountable for the terrible violations being commited.
In other countries, no decision or even a decree is issued until after thorough scrutiny. Its benefits and drawbacks are studied. However, in Kuwait, the government loosens its grip, prompting a director general to dare in offending the country, and violating the Constitution and the law without anyone confronting him because he perhaps sees himself as a pharaoh.
It is true that we appealed to the Minister of Commerce to refer this person who discredits Kuwait to the investigation. It will be better if he never returns to his position. But at the same time, we hope that the minister will issue an immediate decision to stop this farce, and to prevent anyone from taking up similar arguments in this regard.
It is better late than never, because continuing to bar the renewal of work permits for these people does not mean anything other than insisting on the violation. It would therefore mean that nothing has been done.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times