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Limited new visas for domestic workers issued

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 18: Despite the Cabinet’s announcement to allow the recruitment of new domestic workers within the framework of the plan to bring back domestic works through the “Bisalama” platform, which was launched earlier this week, the process of issuing new visas is still very limited. It did not reach the desired level to address the shortage of manpower in the domestic labor market, reports Aljarida daily.

The current shortage of manpower, which the country has been incurring for more than ten months, is roughly estimated at a shortage of nearly 80,000 domestic workers. This makes the Cabinet’s aforementioned decision mere ink on paper. The crisis of this labor shortage remains unresolved, and will worsen, especially with the advent of the month of Ramadan, during which the demand for domestic workers increases dramatically.

Commenting on the labor recruitment decision and the current reality, Head of the Union of Domestic Labor Recruitment Agencies Khaled Al-Dakhnan said, “The current domestic worker shortage crisis is great. It has not and will not be solved except through rapid action by the relevant government agencies in a manner that ensures the opportunity to bring in domestic workers from several markets, without limiting it to only two or three countries.”

He renewed his appeal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) that it is necessary to decide as quickly as possible on the memorandum of understanding for the recruitment of Ethiopian domestic workers. He clarified that the memorandum was sent from the Ethiopian side and has been at the ministry for several months, but no firm decision has been made by either the ministry or PAM in this regard.

Al-Dakhnan stressed that the adoption of this memorandum and the subsequent permits for the recruitment of Ethiopian workers strikes a balance in the market, amid the lack of recruitment requests from the three countries – namely the Philippines, Sri Lanka and India – that meet about 80 percent of the domestic labor needs of Kuwait.

He affirmed that the entry of Ethiopian workers into the country would resolve about 70 percent of the problem related to shortage of domestic workers currently witnessed in the country.

Al-Dakhnan indicated that there are a number of reasons for the union’s urgent desire to implement this agreement, adding, “Ethiopia is not among the list of 34 countries banned from entering the country directly. It is outside the platform of “Bisalama” and this saves citizens and residents about KD 500 of the recruitment costs. The cost of recruiting Ethiopian workers is less than the amount of KD 990 set and announced by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to bring in labor. This is another advantage that reflects positively on the pocket of the citizen and resident.”

Regarding the resumption of the recruitment of new Filipino workers, Al-Dakhnan explained that the matter depends on the renewal of the recruitment contracts signed between the local offices and their counterparts in Manila. The Embassy of the Philippines in Kuwait has moved to another location and will receive auditors after approximately two weeks. After that, applications will be submitted to renew these contracts.

He said, “There are several difficulties that stand in the way of the recruitment of new Filipino workers, mainly the long time period for issuing passports for this worker, the difficulty in moving between villages and Manila, and the strict precautionary and health measures that may hinder the recruitment process.”

For his part, Bassam Al-Shammari, the owner of a domestic labor recruitment office, said, “The governmental procedures for resuming the recruitment of domestic workers are hasty and ill-considered. They were carried out without prior coordination between the relevant authorities, and are led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior and Public Authority for Manpower. This failure makes the recently issued Cabinet’s decision to allow the recruitment of new domestic workers a mere ink on paper”.

He stated that the process of recruitment from the Philippines is still suspended so far, despite the memorandum of understanding and the joint agreement announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a long time ago.

He indicated that all that was raised about determining the costs of returning Filipino domestic workers is nothing more than speculation that will collide with reality when the real recruitment begins.

Al-Shammari added, “Even the recruitment mechanism through the platform is unclear, It does not differentiate between new workers and those who have valid residence permits in the country”.

He stressed that the number of new domestic workers decreased during the coming period by 60 percent, indicating that the office that used to bring in 100 workers every month would only be able to bring in 40 or less now.

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