KUWAIT: The Ministry of Interior plans to ask the next National Assembly to approve decisions to increase charges of Ministry services as a whole and on residency services in particular, the head of the Residency Department said yesterday. Director of the General Department for Residence Affairs Major General Talal Maarafi also said that the Ministry plans to double the overstay fine from the current KD 2 per day to KD 4 for residence violators.
Maarafi did not provide further details on the type of charges the ministry plans to raise and whether the KD 600 ceiling fine for residence violators will be also increased. Currently, foreigners who overstay their residence permits are required to pay a fine of KD 2 per day up to a maximum ceiling of KD 600 regardless of the duration. He did not explain if the overstay fine for visitors will also be raised. The fine for visitors who overstay is KD 10 per day with a ceiling not exceeding KD 1,000. Maarafi said other decisions include toughening penalties on those who provide shelter or work to absconding foreign workers and also on those workers themselves.
The official also said that the residence department has started implementing the recent increase in the salary cap required by expatriates to be able to sponsor their wives and children which was raised from KD 250 to KD 450. He said the measure is primarily aimed at reducing the number of so-called “marginal” or unskilled foreign workforce. He also said that the ministry will introduce new measures with the aim to further cut the number of unskilled laborers.
At present, Kuwait is home to 1.3 million native citizens and around 3 million foreigners, a majority of them Asians with close to a record-breaking 1 million Indians. There are over 650,000 domestic helpers, a majority of them female, among the expatriates. Maarafi regretted that this important issue has escaped the attention of a majority of candidates in the November 26 snap polls. Kuwait has witnessed a significant rise in anti-expat, anti-foreigner sentiment in recent years, with many social problems include excessive traffic, youth unemployment and other issues often blamed on the country’s foreign population.