The Cabinet is likely to take a final decision in the coming week on the issue of not renewing visas of those expats aged over 60, if they do not hold a university degree or diploma. While the ban on renewal of visas for this category of expatriates has been implemented by the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) since January, opposition to the ban has been gaining ground since its imposition.
Opposition from private sector companies, non-governmental organizations to the ban had apparently led to PAM deciding to renew visas provided the visa holder pays a renewal fee of KD2,000 plus additional health insurance fees. Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Abdulla Al-Salman has come out strongly against the KD2,000 fees and has called for reducing this to a maximum of KD500.
The difference of opinion regarding this issue between the DIrector-General of PAM, Ahmed Al Mousa and Minister Al-Salman who is Chairman of PAM, has led to a stalemate, with the ball now in the Cabinet’s court. Meanwhile , public opposition to the ban on renewal of visas, and the exorbitant fees being charged for renewals has been mounting.
Labor unions, industry and banking chiefs and the Chairman of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) are the latest voices to come out in support of retaining workers, especially technical workers, aged over 60, even if they have no college degree. They point out that many of these workers are highly experienced in their specializations and replacing them with young, inexperienced workers will cost companies heavily. The KCCI chief Muhammad Al Saqr has called on His Highness the Prime Minister to directly intervene in this matter and amend the decision.
Industry chiefs say that the skilled workers that the companies depend on do not need university degrees, but experience, competence, and courses inside and outside Kuwait, and that these workers have developed their skills to keep pace with the development of the industry, which cost the owners of these businesses exorbitant sums of money.