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MP Al Hashem calls for 10-year residency cap
July 18, 2017, 12:45 pm

MP Safa Al Hashem, who has been leading a drive to reduce the number of foreigners in her country, has called for imposing a 10-year cap on employing expatriates. Exemptions may be allowed but only once and in very exceptional cases, MP Al Hashem said.

“The aim is to help Kuwaitis find jobs in light of the increase of the number of foreigners in the country to the triple of the nationals,” she said in remarks published by Kuwaiti daily Al Nahar on Tuesday. The government should also ban foreigners from bringing their relatives into Kuwait, except for their parents.

“In such cases, all medical needs and requirements should be borne by the expatriate, and not by the state,” Al Hashem, the only woman in the parliament elected in November, said. “There is an urgent need to ensure that the e-government provides the real needs of large companies for foreigners. We cannot continue to rely on estimates that have caused a horrible demographic chaos,” she said.

The lawmaker also called for increasing the fees of importing manpower from abroad by 100 percent, except domestic helpers. The higher fees should make people and companies re-consider the easy option of hiring foreigners. However, hiking the fees for domestic helpers would mean extra spending by Kuwaitis, she reasoned.

“All project managers and contractors should be told to send their foreigners back to their home countries once the project is completed,” Al Hashem said. Several lawmakers have been pushing for a nationwide debate of the massive presence of foreigners in the country amid hopes that lasting solutions could be achieved.

Kuwait is home to 4.4 million people, including 3.1 million expatriates and to 1.3 million Kuwaitis. Al Hashem has been exceptionally vociferous about the need to address the demographic disparity. In January, she blasted the government for “not working efficiently on training enough Kuwaitis to replace expatriates and help address unemployment and the demographic imbalance.”

In her criticism, she called for increasing living costs for foreigners and imposing taxes on them. “When expatriates in the private sector have to spend more to be able to live and work in Kuwait, they will ask for higher wages and here the companies will be forced to reconsider their options and will no longer employ unskilled people,” she said. “They will be recruiting only skilled people with higher wages, and in such a case, the private sector will become more lucrative for Kuwaitis. At the same time, foreigners have to pay taxes, even for using roads.”

However, while lawmakers are talking about dramatic reduction of foreigners in the country, the reality in some sectors is biting. A medical source said Kuwait would be left with serious problems in the health sector if the authorities went ahead with much-anticipated plans to reduce the high number of medical and paramedical foreign staff.

“The health ministry simply cannot do away with the expatriates working in the health sector, and that includes doctors, nurses, technicians as well as administrators and accountants and legal experts,” the source said.

“The issue will have even more dramatic dimensions with the planned expansion of health facilities or the construction of new ones. There will be great needs for staff and the numbers of Kuwaitis are not enough to fill in the vacancies.”

Source: Gulf News

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