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Visa trade victims stuck between devil & the sea

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KUWAIT CITY, Feb 17: New facts and surprises were revealed in the issue, regarding which the article titled “Termination of nurses opens the wounds of the angels of mercy” was published by Al-Qabas daily on January 28, 2021, about those whose contracts with the Ministry of Health were terminated by their companies, and found themselves in a circle of suffering despite the urgent need for their specialties in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the great shortage in medical and nursing staff, reports Al-Qabas daily.

After dozens of affected nurses submitted complaints to the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) during the last several days, sources said investigations were conducted which revealed that the nursing companies trade in residence permits, and had received large sums of money for bringing nurses from their countries, and had forced each nurse to pay sums between KD 2,000 and KD 5,000 to waive the sponsorship and allow them to contract with the Ministry of Health or the private medical sector. The sources explained that the investigations also revealed a company that is suspected of collecting a total of up to one million dinars within a few months from these nurses and doctors in exchange for allowing them to transfer residences to other places. While state agencies are working to combat the visa trade phenomenon, some nursing companies continue to profit from trading medical staff, and turn them into a way of earning money through manipulation, blackmail, and exploitation of their circumstances after bringing them from their countries.

Manpower
According to informed sources from PAM, the employment protection sector revealed negotiations of these needed manpower during investigations with them, explaining that these companies had terminated their contracts with the Ministry of Health, and dealt with them in a way to exploit them during the Corona pandemic, and many of them were forced to pay. The sources indicated that some company officials were summoned and interrogated about obtaining sums of money in exchange for transferring to contracts with the Ministry of Health, adding that legal procedures are being taken against them.

They explained that PAM, represented by the labor protection sector, is continuing to combat the visa trade phenomenon and refer to the Public Prosecution various suspicions that are registered. PAM has recorded hundreds of complaints over the last few days, and investigations are still underway. PAM has the power to transfer the residences of all medical and nursing staff affected by the force of law without the companies’ approval to direct contracts with the Ministry of Health, if the latter so desires. PAM has asked government agencies and the Central Tenders Committee to reduce the rate of direct contracts with the companies that provide medical staff and human resources to government agencies to meet the need.

The sources also revealed a proposal to reduce the rate to 50 percent so that the employment needed by government agencies is provided through direct contracting in accordance with the regulations of the Civil Service Commission without the need for tenders and contracts, and linking this to the extent of the ministries’ need.

Meanwhile, a number of nurses revealed to the daily that they had obtained transfer from their companies to contract with the Ministry of Health, but so far the ministry has not completed the hiring procedures, even though they have been working in its sectors before their companies terminated their services. They said, “We went through the tests, and completed the transactions required of us to return to our work in the Ministry of Health, but so far we are still stuck between the delay in approvals and the approaching expiry of the residency of companies. We are subjected to settlements that implied once again to government private contracts in tenders.”

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