KUWAIT: The issue of maids and expatriate labor dominated developments yesterday as the foreign ministry summoned the Philippines ambassador over a ban on Filipino workers, while the foreign minister said discussions are ongoing with several countries to recruit maids. The health minister also stopped private companies from recruiting nurses from abroad to work for the ministry, giving the job to a ministerial committee. Meanwhile, lawmakers yesterday said they will demand forming a committee to investigate why the maid crisis continues despite setting up a special company for the recruitment of domestic helpers.
The foreign ministry summoned yesterday Ambassador of Philippines to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Sulaiman Al- Jarallah announced. The Filipino envoy met at the ministry with the assistant foreign minister for consular affairs, who notified the ambassador about Kuwait’s regret and bewilderment towards his president’s decision to suspend the dispatch of workers to Kuwait. Such a stance contradicts the nature of the distinctive ties between the two countries and does not serve their common interests.
Jarallah added that the Kuwaiti side noted to the ambassador that freedoms and rights enjoyed by the expatriate communities in the country have contributed to raising the number of Filipino workers to 276,000. The status of the workers in Kuwait cannot be assessed according to individual cases that are common in other nations. Moreover, the Kuwaiti side expressed readiness to host Filipino diplomats to discuss the conditions of the community and follow up on Filipinos’ problems.
Jarallah added that the envoy was asked to seek to lift the ban. Villa praised the cooperation of the ministry of foreign affairs and pledged to recommend to his government to end the ban soon. Jarallah also noted that the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the Philippines Musaed Al-Thuwaikh will meet today with the Filipino foreign minister and other officials as part of Kuwait’s efforts in this respect.
MP Khalil Abul said the lawmakers will demand during tomorrow’s session the formation of a committee from various ministries and departments to investigate the maid recruitment problem in the country. He said the motion will demand that the planned committee study the issue and submit a full report to the National Assembly’s health committee. The Assembly will then study the report and take a decision.
A company for the recruitment of maids was established two years ago to try to recruit domestic helpers from abroad at reasonable prices, after costs skyrocketed at a large number of private recruitment offices. Abul blamed the government for contributing to the problem by not trying to provide alternative countries for the recruitment of maids, and called for quick and decisive measures.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah said yesterday no country has yet agreed or rejected to deal with the private Al-Durra Company for the recruitment of maids. He said the company is negotiating with some countries and is currently in talks with Indian authorities to win their approval for the recruitment of domestic helpers. The Kuwaiti mission in Laos is also discussing with the authorities there over the same reason. The minister said Kuwaiti missions in maid-exporting countries have completed a study about the cost of recruitment. He did not reveal its contents.
Health Minister Sheikh Basel Al-Sabah yesterday set new guidelines for recruiting nursing staff from abroad to work for the ministry and stopped private companies from recruiting them. The decision comes following reports of wide-ranging corruption that forced expat nurses to pay thousands of dinars to get jobs at the health ministry. The decision however allowed private companies to recruit manpower for nursing services.
In another development, MPs Jamaan Al-Harbash and Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, currently in jail, demanded yesterday to be allowed to attend the planned grilling of Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Sabeeh, expected to be debated tomorrow. The two lawmakers have been in jail for the past two months after the appeals court sentenced them among 67 opposition activists for storming the Assembly in 2011. The two lawmakers said in a letter that they want to be present in the grilling session so they can express their right to support or oppose the quiz.
By B Izzak and Agencies