Sunday, April 26, 2015

Proposal to increase Fees

KUWAIT CITY, April 25: Assistant Undersecretary for Citizenship and Residency Affairs at the Ministry of Interior Major General Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah has unveiled a plan to increase fees for all services provided to expatriates; including commercial and tourist visa, temporary residency, self sponsorship and dependent visas for the expatriates’ children, parents or siblings, reports Al-Rai daily.

According to Al-Jarrah, some of the fees may reach KD 100 and more than double for others, adding that there will no longer be free services while KD 20 dinars will be paid for the residency for each person. He cited as examples the one-month commercial visit visa which used to be free will now be charged KD 30, three-months tourist visa that was also free will now cost KD 90, dependent visa for children will increase from KD 100 to KD 150, while the same visa for siblings and parents will increase from KD 200 to KD 400.

He affirmed this decision excludes non-Kuwaiti women married to Kuwaitis or the children of Kuwaiti women married to non- Kuwaitis as the current fees applicable to them shall be the same. He clarified the current fees have been the same for decades, not to mention the manipulation of operations as some people exploit the low fees to achieve certain goals such as access to free government treatment and medication worth tens of thousands of dinars; thereby, putting pressure on the State budget and the Ministry of Health services.

He asserted the decision is final and on the verge of being approved, reiterating this is an urgent proposal aimed at stopping unscrupulous people from manipulating laws. He added that despite the increase, Kuwait’s fees are still considered the lowest compared to other GCC countries. In a related development, Al-Jarrah revealed a vital and important project is being discussed in a bid to punish those harboring or employing offenders (residency or labor law violators).

He said the penalties include fine ranging from KD 400 to KD 500 to be paid immediately for the owner of the establishment which harbors or employs offenders. He disclosed the proposal will be submitted soon to the Interior Minister’s Office for approval, indicating he expects quick implementation.

He pointed out the proposal is similar to what is currently applied in other member-nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He explained this has become a necessity due to the remarkable increase in the number of offenders – now estimated at tens of thousands; hence, the need to strictly apply the law. He went on to say a comprehensive plan for domestic workers and domestic labor recruitment offices has been presented for discussion. He confirmed the plan will take into account the loopholes in existing laws, indicating the most important stipulations include prohibiting dealing with domestic laborers who refuse to work for their sponsors or rejected by sponsors, deportation of a worker who does not want to work, immediate closure of erring domestic labor offices after the first warning, and deducting the corresponding amount from the bank guarantee of the office in case it does not buy a ticket for the worker who has been proven to have violated the law.

He then stressed the need to enact a domestic labor law to stop the violations and human trafficking which tarnish the image of Kuwait in international forums. He also announced the closure of more than 17 domestic labor offices found to have violated the law, adding that the ministry will continue tracking down those who do no respect the laws of the country.

Other news:

Cabinet freezes Expat numbers

KUWAIT: At its meeting last week, the Cabinet decided to stop the flow of any more expats into Kuwait and maintain the current numbers without any increase, allowing newcomers to only replace those leaving, said government sources. The sources added that the Cabinet discussed several scenarios to solve the demographic composition to help fix ‘imbalances’ that have been studied and discussed since 1989.

The sources said some Cabinet members touted a report noting that “Kuwaitis have become a minority in their own home country”, and stressed that in order to reach a percentage of 40 percent of the population within 15 years, the best suggestion made so far was to immediately freeze current expat numbers and not allow any more into the country unless to replace those leaving for good.

The sources added that according to recent studies, only 17 percent of the workforce is Kuwaiti, while expats number 2,008,885. The study also showed that 514,000 citizens below 15 and above 65 were excluded from the workforce, while expats excluded from the force number 439,000. In addition, the sources explained that 855,854 expats do not hold any qualifications or degrees and that the total number of domestic workers is 564,803. — Al-Qabas

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