Govt plans to ban renewal of marginal laborers’ work permits, residency visas

KUWAIT: The Interior Ministry's Assistant Undersecretary for Residency Affairs Maj Gen Talal Maarafi yesterday issued a decision on not lifting absconding reports filed against domestic helpers, and accordingly, any absconding helper arrested by security authorities will be immediately deported. Well-informed sources said the decision was made to combat visa trafficking.

The sources added the government has set resolving the problem of demographic imbalance on top of its priorities and that special legislations had been referred to the National Assembly to be discussed and passed in January, in addition to other decisions that will soon be announced by Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and Minister of State for Economic Development Hind Al-Sabeeh.

The sources said the new measures had been already studied and approved by the Cabinet with the aim of regulating the presence of marginal laborers and assessing the actual needs of the local labor market. They said expected government decisions include banning the renewal of marginal laborers' work permits and residency visas.

Moreover, strict instructions will be given to accurately assess the labor needed with more focus on qualified workers, the sources added, noting that the government believes that the manpower authority and interior ministry have so far failed to stop visa trafficking, which called for forming a special team to study various legislations to amend them and stop manipulations by traffickers.

"Reducing the number of expats in Kuwait is not the target - the government only aims to regulate their presence by focusing on allowing in only qualified and skilled workers," the sources underlined, noting that once the new measures are in effect, Kuwait will be able to get rid of a million marginal laborers within seven years.

Meanwhile, the local Al-Rai daily reported that Sabeeh said the minister of social affairs and labor is open to study any proposed amendments of the private sector labor law. "Any amendment for the good of citizens working in the private sector will be taken into full consideration," she underlined, noting that the government is keen on encouraging citizens to work in the private sector by providing more vocational security for them, revising their indemnities, and article 70 of law number 85/2017 pertaining official vacations.

Manpower Authority Director Ahmed Al-Moussa said the authority is coordinating with various government bodies in terms of monitoring and inspecting employers in general and government projects in particular. He said that bodies concerned with the inspection process have been technically linked. Moussa added that in coordination with the interior ministry, the authority launched several inspection campaigns that resulted in detecting some violations and referred them - through residency detectives - to the public prosecution.

By A Saleh and Meshaal Al-Enezi