First ‘pro-expat’ law to be passed in parliament in nine years
KUWAIT: As the National Assembly decided to pass the amendments to the private sector’s labor law in its first reading in a unanimous vote along with the government’s approval, this makes it probable that it will be passed during the sessions of March 19 and 20. Sources described the law as the first legislation to be issued by the National Assembly in favor of expats in nine years. It is expected to raise annual leave for 1.7 million expats working in the private sector to 40 days and increase the monthly salary and indemnity by 15 percent, according to specialized economic sources. This law is among the conciliatory legislations by the government and parliament to strengthen legislative gains despite fears expressed by financial parties that this law will raise the cost of labor in Kuwait and constitutes a burden for some companies.
The interior ministry is coordinating with the foreign ministry to prepare the plan of implementing the decision of scrapping the residency sticker for expats and use the civil ID information instead, a security source said. The sources said coordination with the foreign ministry will be in case the civil ID is lost outside Kuwait – in the expat’s country – because they will not be able to leave the country and will not be allowed in Kuwait unless they have a civil ID, which will hinder the return of expats, especially teachers, doctors, nurses and others.
The sources said the solution will be to coordinate with the foreign embassy to inform Kuwaiti embassies abroad to receive expats who lose their civil IDs in their countries, provided that they produce a lost certificate from their country. Then the embassy will write to the Kuwaiti interior ministry to enquire about the expat’s data and their residency, and when confirmed, they will be given an entry paper from the embassy with the required information.
A security source at the traffic department said no driving licenses will be given to housewives except in eight cases. The sources said the exempted cases include homemakers who have children whose husbands are public prosecution members, advisors, experts, faculty members of universities and institutions, doctors, pharmacists and general managers and their aides, provided that their salaries are not less than KD 600. The source said traffic departments in the six governorates are not authorized to issue driving licenses to Syrian homemakers, and only the assistant undersecretary for traffic affairs and his assistant for licensing affairs have the authority to make a decision. He said it is not true that engineers’ wives can get licenses, adding that engineers are not among the exempted professions in the latest ministerial decision.
KD 110 million
Informed sources said the health ministry collected around KD 110 million from expats in health insurance last year, adding that the money was transferred to the ministry’s account through the contracted company. Sources said KD 62.5 million was collected in cash, KD 41 million through electronic stamps from machines available at health insurance centers in Fahaheel, Sabah, Farwaniya, Jahra and Jabriya, KD 107,600 through regular stamps and KD 192,000 through the K-Net. The sources said KD 5.6 million was collected from government bodies in which employees’ residencies are renewed, at KD 50 per expat. They said the fee collection continues through the online service or insurance centers that work two shifts during the week, except for holidays.
The education ministry needs 670 teachers of both genders for the 2019-2020 school year to cover a shortage in nine specialties, especially with the opening of new schools. Informed sources said the required specialties are English, French, science, mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, geology and physical education. Educational sources said the ministry will consider those who apply locally, then it will decide on the number of foreign contracts before traveling to three countries – Palestine, Jordan and Tunisia. In case committees cannot get the required number of teachers, and when it is absolutely necessary, they will consider contracting teachers from Egypt.
Framework of coordination
Deputy Director General for Labor Affairs at the Public Authority for Manpower Hassan Al-Khader said that within the framework of coordination and cooperation with the commerce and industry ministry, a meeting was held on Monday, March 4, 2019 to discuss the mechanism of registering licenses related to the files of employers at the authority, besides other subjects. Khader said that the meeting ended with positive results with regards to the rules related to registering commercial licenses issued by the ministry, based on which files are opened.
By A Saleh and Meshaal Al-Enezi