By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Opposition lawmaker Abdulkarim Al-Kandari yesterday criticized the interior ministry for reportedly extending a grace period granted to expats living illegally in the country. The ministry has not yet announced the extension, although the grace period - which has already been extended twice since it began on Dec 1, 2020 - expired yesterday.

The amnesty allows expats living illegally to either legalize their stay by paying the necessary fines or leave the country, also after paying the fines. Kandari claimed on Twitter that the ministry continues to extend the amnesty period and exempts illegals from paying fines, which amounts to "squandering public funds" instead of deporting them to their home countries.

He said the government has again proved its inability to apply the law, and instead of imposing security measures on areas densely populated with expats, it encourages them to stay in the country without work and valid residency. Also yesterday, Ahmad Al-Azemi submitted a proposal to increase monthly assistance for Kuwaiti university students from KD 200 to KD 300.

The interior ministry yesterday said around 2.5 million residency-related transactions have been completed online since the introduction of the service in May last year. They include 639,000 transactions for the private sector and 628,600 transactions for article 14 or temporary residency, in addition to legalizing the stay of 547,000 expats, according to a statement by the ministry. The transactions also included 343,600 for dependents, 166,700 for domestic helpers and 24,500 for expats in government jobs.