The excessive rise in expat marginal workers in Kuwait constitutes an alarming problem, however it seems candidates for the forthcoming National Assembly (parliament) elections due later this month, have dropped it from their priorities.
Amid the hard efforts being exerted by the Ministry of the Interior to achieve a balance in the population structure, and the reportedly 80 percent increase in expat minor labor, lawmakers in the new parliament will have to face a thorny issue that could leave such negative effects on the country.
The ministry is now working on various solutions to the problem, topped with restoring the balance in the numbers of foreign communities in the country, through controlling visit visas and family enrollments, besides coordinating with the Public Authority for Manpower for rationing work permits.
Despite the security and social dimensions of the minor workers' issue, potential lawmakers, so far, have paid it attention, Director General of Residency Affairs Department at Ministry of Interior Maj Gen Talal Marafie told KUNA in an interview. As part of the ministry's eagerness to handle the issue, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah issued a ministerial decree raising the salary cap for an expatriate willing to bring his family on a residence visa from KD 250 to KD 450.
The new approach has been in place for two weeks, with the major aim of lessening the numbers for family enrollments, and in the meantime to avoid throwing a burden on expatriates with a salary of KD 250; one will have to provide for housing, education, health care and transport for a family, Maj Gen Marafie said.
He noted that strict instructions have been issued to the relevant departments to streamline visit visas for marginal workers, maximum twice a year. According to Marafie, the ministry tightened measures for old age visitors.
It was noticed that many of them visited hospitals almost directly after they arrived here to benefit from the medical advantages, he said. This is a violation of the concept of a visa, a tourist of a family one.
The General Department of the Residence Affairs exert huge efforts to monitor marginal workers through raids on industrial facilities, farms and fake companies, he said.
The department is keen on maintaining contacts with the Public Authority for Manpower, including regular meetings, to discuss developments of the issue and to rid Kuwait from marginal workers, Maj Gen Marafie.
The authority is responsible for permits, identifying their rates and numbers. Then the Interior Ministry offers the entry visa after a permit is guaranteed.
Marafie urged the would-be parliament to support a bunch of draft bills the ministry will submit on the vital issue. Four bills have already been prepared, one of them for raising fees on the services the ministry, and the Director General of Residency Affairs Department in particular, offer, he said.
Another bill provides for immediate penalty on those who host runaway workers that are absent from work. The punishment will be determined by a committee from the Ministries of Interior, Social Affairs, and Commerce and Trade, in addition to the Kuwait Municipality, to guarantee integrity, he said.
A third bill will target those who encourage workers to flee, while another one will double the fine on violators. Maj Gen Marafie concluded by urging eligible electorate to participate effectively in the elections set for November 26, carefully selecting the representatives who can best serve the interests of the nation.