By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Lawmakers yesterday called on authorities to strictly apply laws and decisions issued to create more jobs for Kuwaitis in the public sector and to reduce the appointment of expats in such jobs. The calls came during a debate on three draft laws that aim to create more jobs for citizens. The bills were however returned to the concerned Assembly panel to include remarks made by MPs.

MP Abdulaziz Al-Saqabi said that unemployment among Kuwaitis rose from 26 percent to 32 percent in the past six months, while MP Osama Al-Shaheen said that Kuwaitis are now coming back to the public sector from the private sector because of the lack of incentives. MP Saleh Al-Mutairi claimed that advertisements for government jobs are "tailored for expats", while MP Muhannad Al-Sayer called for preventing expats from working two jobs.

MP Abdulkarim Al-Kundari said that ministers should not be given the power of exemption in employment, adding that expats are given public sector jobs from "the back door". MP Saifi Al-Saifi said that it is strange that after 80 years, oil companies are still appointing foreigners in the oil sector. "Foreign manpower is milking the country and we need a law to force the private sector to employ Kuwaitis".

During yesterday's special session, the Assembly approved provisional amendments to the procedural law to cut detention at police stations to a maximum of 48 hours from four days and preventive arrest for up to 10 days down from three weeks. Lawmakers charged that the long preventive detention is being misused to punish suspects who are later acquitted in court. One of the amendments scraps detention for people suspected of misdemeanor charges whose penalty is less than three months in jail.

The Assembly also approved amendments to the press and publication law and the audio-visual law to expand freedom of speech and reduce penalties on the freedom of expression charges. Amendments to the press and publications law reduce the capital needed to establish a newspaper from KD 250,000 to just KD 100,000. The amendments to the audio-visual law scrap criminalizing remarks that could undermine relations with Arab countries.

In another development, the Health Ministry yesterday reported 4,883 new coronavirus cases, a new record high, with one death. The number of patients at intensive care units is 17 and those receiving treatment at hospitals increased to 213. The number of active cases climbed to 32,556 cases.