By B Izzak
KUWAIT: Opposition MP Fares Al-Otaibi yesterday asked Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Al-Salman, who is also Chairman of the Public Authority for Manpower, about why he refused to implement a decision regarding residents aged 60 and above after it was voted on twice by the authority’s board. Last year, PAM issued a decision banning the renewal of residencies of expats older than 60 who do not hold university degrees.
The decision came under fire from MPs and human rights bodies and activists, who demanded the revocation of the decision. In his questions, Otaibi asked the minister to provide him with a list of people affected by the decision, including their nationality and profession. He also demanded the minutes of the meetings of the PAM board regarding the issue. He also asked the minister about the legal justification for refusing to sign on decisions by the authority board.
The lawmaker inquired if at one of the meetings, the chamber of commerce, the labor union and several government sides agreed that all expats affected by the decision should pay KD 2,000 annually to be exempted from the ban. He inquired about the sums that the state would have collected if the decision was implemented. Another opposition MP earlier this week filed to grill the minister for refusing to implement the decision and for ordering a probe into the director of PAM for “illegally issuing the decision”.
The government’s legal body, the Fatwa and Legislation Department, last month ruled that the decision breaches the constitution and called for abolishing it. However, the authority has so far not scrapped the decision, apparently waiting for legal clarification of the ruling. Close to 90,000 expats have reportedly been affected by the decision.
Meanwhile, the interior ministry began receiving requests for business and family visas at the start of the week after a pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, but security sources said the decision does not include citizens from seven countries: Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sudan. The abovementioned nationalities are not granted business, work or family visas without the approval of the interior minister, Al-Rai Arabic daily reported yesterday, quoting the anonymous sources.
Residency departments are receiving applications for entry and family visas, but applicants must meet the conditions to enter the country according to interior ministry rules and health protocols. The sources said the ports and passports department is granting tourist visas to holders of passports who do not need a pre-issued visa and usually receive it upon arrival to the country, but for now such visas are only issued online through the interior ministry website after uploading the required documents and coronavirus vaccination certificate.
Opposition MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari yesterday submitted a draft law calling to bar the ministries of defense and interior from imposing security restrictions on people without a court decision. He said that the actions of the two ministries violate the constitution because they penalize people without convicting them.