Kuwait signals end to expats family visa ban

Ban takes toll on labor market: MP Al-Essa

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KUWAIT CITY, Dec 13: Chairman of the Human Resources Development Committee in the National Assembly MP Abdulwahab Al-Essa disclosed that he met with Minister of Interior Sheikh Talal Khalid Al- Ahmad Al-Sabah recently, during which the latter informed him that the decision to ban the family visa for expatriates will be lifted once the bill on amending the Foreigners Residency Law is ratified.
He then told the minister about the negative consequences of the enforcement of the decision to ban family visa; such as turning Kuwait into a center for bachelors, increasing the cost of hiring laborers, especially in the construction field and the fact that the competent expatriate laborers are waiting for a chance to leave Kuwait in order to go to any neighboring country where they can work and stay with their families.

He disclosed: “I submitted a request to the Assembly to study the impact of this decision on the private sector, small enterprises and the market in general.” He warned the decision affects the continuity of the service of competent expatriates who usually leave Kuwait immediately after obtaining a job opportunity in other Gulf countries or other parts of the world.

He pointed out that the rising number of unmarried expatriates negatively affects the social and security conditions in the country, as well as the economy.

He also confirmed receiving complaints from several young Kuwaitis, who are currently constructing their houses in Mutla’a City. He asserted the citizens are the ones suffering the consequences of the exaggerated restrictions imposed on expatriate workers, considering the rising cost of hiring laborers.
He continued saying that Chairman of the Interior and Defense Affairs Committee MP Muhammad Al-Mahan affirmed that the committee will finalize its report on the bill to pave way for its inclusion in the agenda of the next session.

In addition, the Assembly approved the proposed establishment of a Kuwaiti shareholding company for advanced petroleum industries in its first reading on Wednesday, with 49 votes in favor, one voted against and one abstained.

The Assembly decided to postpone voting on the second reading of the bill in order to give time to the MPs who want to make amendments or present their comments.

This came after the Assembly discussed the third report of the Oil and Energy Affairs Committee about the proposal submitted by 15 MPs.
Chairman of the committee MP Hassan Jawhar disclosed that the report is the conclusion of a series of meetings and intensive discussions with the concerned parties; stressing the importance of establishing the shareholding company to increase oil revenues since oil is the main source of national income.

Rapporteur of the committee MP Osama Al-Zaid said the first part of the report highlighted the obstacles to the development of the oil sector as follows:
– No clear vision,
– Constant change of oil ministers that led to the instability of this essential sector and hindered its development,
– Excessive interference of irrelevant institutions and parties in the oil sector,
– Low number of foreign investors,
– Not taking advantage of available national human resources despite the fact that Kuwait has been producing oil for more than 70 years,
– Failure to lay down the required strategy that led to the failure of development efforts,
– Global tendency to depend on alternative sources of energy and the European plan to stop using oil engine vehicles starting from 2035,
– Inaccurate data making it too difficult to give the right opinion,
– Only 62 percent of the oil strategy and 25 percent of the gas strategy of Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) for 2040 have been achieved so far,
– KNPC admitted facing financial problems due to the unpaid debts of the government estimated at KD3 billion which is urgently needed for the implementation of development projects,
– Continuous negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the oil prices.

Al-Zaid added the committee also recorded comments regarding the Supreme Oil Council; which is supposed to meet at least four times a year, but it has not held any meetings in the last few years. He pointed out that the powers granted to the council do not match those granted to the boards of directors of oil companies. He confirmed that bureaucracy in the oil sector led to huge losses, citing the environmental fuel project that was approved in 2006 at an estimated cost of KD245 million but it was implemented only 15 years later at a total cost of KD4.6 billion. He also stated that Zour Refinery was approved in 2004 but it was launched 19 years later, indicating the difference between the estimated and actual costs is more than KD3 billion. He asserted that Kuwait is the only Gulf country without global partners and it continues to face the lack of cash problem due to the huge losses incurred by the Vietnam Oil Refinery.

During the discussion, the MPs expressed support for the proposal due to the expectation that it will greatly contribute to the improvement of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and generate job opportunities for citizens.

MP and former Minister of Oil Badr Al-Mullah stressed the need for an advanced mechanism for the enforcement of the bill, while MP Hamad Al-Matar stressed that the big problem of the oil sector is bad administration. He added the bill does not provide technical details.

MP Ahmed Lari affirmed the bill, once approved, will provide an important source of income for the nation as it entails fully benefiting from oil.
Meanwhile, 41 MPs submitted a proposal to include the bill on amending the relevant law in order to allow public sector employees to pursue higher studies while working in the agenda of the session scheduled for Jan 9, 2024.
In another development, the Assembly also tackled the parliamentary queries forwarded to ministers. MP Muhannad Al-Sayer commented on the response of the ministers to his queries about the number of terminated expatriate consultants in each ministry. He said he was informed about the number, but the issue is that no Kuwaiti consultant has been appointed so far. He clarified that the aim of replacing expatriates with nationals is not to get rid of the expatriates but to generate job opportunities for nationals and to benefit from their experience. He expressed concern that the ministers are hesitant to appoint Kuwaiti consultants because the latter could prove their capabilities and then replace the ministers.

MP Hamad Al-Elyan asked Minister of Justice and State Minister for Housing Affairs Faleh Al- Raqaba about the request of some employees at the Central Agency for Public Tenders (CAPT) to amend their annual job performance assessment results in order to meet the promotion requirements. He found out that these employees supported their request by doing special tasks, which included buying breakfast and coffee. He added their request was approved although most of them are tardy most of the time. He urged Al-Raqaba to follow up the investigation conducted by the committee he assigned to look into the issue.
MP Hamad Al-Matar asked Minister of Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research Adel Al-Manea about the number of scholarship slots for medical studies granted to students who graduated from public schools compared to those who graduated from private schools. He claimed the students who graduated from private schools are suffering due to the wrong evaluation methods, making it very difficult for these students to complete their medical studies. He said the number of private school students accepted into medical institutions is 30 percent higher than those who graduated from public schools, considering a secondary-stage student in a private school is given 100 percent even if his actual mark is only 92 percent.

He went on to say the decision to suspend the scholarship slots for medical students in Jordan and Egypt was not studied well and there have been no alternative universities till date.

MP Jenan Bu Shehri asked the Minister of Justice and State Minister for Housing Affairs Faleh Al- Raqaba about the contracting companies which have been suspended in the last three years for committing violations, as well as the relevant documents and correspondences. She confirmed receiving the minister’s response to the first part of her queries, disclosing the minister informed her that he cannot provide copies of the documents and correspondences as per the ruling of the Constitutional Court. She wondered what could be the confidential information that prevented the MP from performing her monitoring task.

MP Fahd bin Jame’e asked Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Salem Al-Sabah about the criteria for the appointment of the members of the National Diwan for Human Rights Affairs. He revealed one of the members of the Diwan is working in both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Diwan; hence, the conflict of interests.

MP Khalid Al-Otaibi said he forwarded the same queries to three successive ministers of Education and Higher Education and he received different answers. He revealed one of them asked for more time to respond to the queries; that is, beyond the deadline stipulated in the National Assembly Law, another resigned after stating that the queries are unconstitutional and finally he obtained the answers from the incumbent minister. He then urged his colleagues not to give up and insist on getting the answers to their queries.

MP Abdullah Al-Anbai asked the health minister about the crowds in public hospitals, the citizens’ complaints in this regard and the date of opening Dhaman Hospital. He affirmed receiving a detailed response, but it is not convincing; as he was informed that the hospital has been completed, but the opening is delayed due to administrative and legal considerations. He argued the citizen has nothing to do with such complications, which should be settled by the court.

On the lack of some medicines in public pharmacies, Al-Anbai said he suggested following the system adopted by Saudi Arabia where the patient takes the prescription from the public hospital and then obtain the medicine from the private pharmacy for free. He pointed out this is done in coordination with the Ministry of Health; thereby, reducing the financial and administrative burdens of the ministry.
MP Soud Al-Asfour asked the Commerce and Industry minister about the revenues of Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) and the donations it receives, stating the minister responded that he has no idea due to the law on the establishment of KFAS. He said a ministerial decision stipulates that shareholding companies and institutions are obligated to inform the Ministry of Commerce and Industry about their annual revenues, as the latter usually deducts one percent from such revenues to put in the coffers of the government. He explained the regulations of KFAS do not allow such deduction; hence, the need for a legislative solution similar to the case of Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
thatMP Hassan Jawhar asked the education minister about the total cost of overseas scholarships in the last five years and he was informed that the cost is estimated at KD4 billion. He pointed out this amount is enough to establish two universities, stressing the need to save public funds for the development of the quality of education in the country.

MP Fares Al-Otaibi asked Minister of Social Affairs and State Minister for Family, Women and Children Affairs Sheikh Feras Al-Sabah about the complaints against the Public Authority for Disabled Affairs (PADA), particularly the delayed provision of the devices they need like wheelchairs and earphones. He disclosed some beneficiaries wait for more than two years to obtain these devices, not to mention the complicated administrative procedures. The minister then affirmed that he is closely following up the issue, as he is keen on improving services for the disabled.

By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh
Al-Seyassah/Arab Times Staff

This news has been read 29048 times!

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