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No halt to plans to reduce expats’ in Kuwait: Minister

Fees on expats helps improve business environment –  Increasing work permit fees to curb expat numbers

Hind Al-Sabeeh

KUWAIT: Minister of Social Affairs And Labor and Minister of State for Economic Development Hind Al-Sabeeh stressed that she had not been subjected to any pressure from VIPs or visa traffickers to halt plans to reduce the number of expats in the country and pointed out that 337 related violations had been referred to investigation in 2017, in addition to 302 cases filed, 150 referred to courts and 58 in which sentences had been already passed.

Responding to a parliamentary inquiry filed by MP Khalil Al-Saleh, Sabeeh added that imposing new fees on expats will help improve the business environment in the medium and long runs by keeping only well-qualified workers with high skills and reducing those with lower qualifications. She added that along with other procedural measures, the demographic imbalance problem can be resolved by increasing the fees of work permits, residency visas and increasing the minimum salary for an expat to sponsor a dependent visa from KD 250 to KD 450.

Sabeeh added that the 2015-2017/ 2019-2020 development plan targets increasing the number of nationals in the private sector despite the current obstacles represented in the outcome of the educational process, little incentives offered to citizens compared to those in the public sector and citizens’ reluctance to work in certain professions.

Budget deficit
Rapporteur of the parliament’s financial affairs committee MP Saleh Ashour said the committee proposed a project to borrow from local and international markets to cover for the budget deficit and stressed that before borrowing, the government could consider other alternatives such as government investment bodies. “These investments should be directed to the state budget,” he said, noting that Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) is the only body responsible for investments and that other government bodies are not entitled to invest. Notably, the government had proposed a bill requesting permission to borrow a maximum of KD 25 billion from local and international markets within 20 years.

Jaber Hospital
Kuwait Investment Authority’s (KIA) investment and new projects department is discussing the investment feasibility of founding a shareholding company to operate Jaber Hospital and offering 51 percent of its shares to be owned by citizens and 49 percent for public bidding, including 25 percent for a strategic investor and the balance for public and private companies.
The department explained that the company will also invest in the medical sector and other health services projects. The department also announced that contracts to supply the hospital’s equipment had been signed, including contracts to provide cleaning services.

Uncollected debts
A government document showed that Kuwait Aviation Fueling Company (KAFCO) has a total of KD 70.6 million in uncollected debts. According to the document, KAC is indebted by around KD 61.8 million, which is over 95 percent of the total amounts of the debts, of which only KD 28.2 million has been so far paid. The document also showed that the defense ministry is also indebted to the company and that the debt is expected to be paid off this year.

Fences removed
Kuwait Municipality started removing all fences surrounding unlicensed gardens as stipulated by ministerial decision number 172/2007 pertaining agriculture by residential houses. Head of the capital emergency team Zaid Al-Enezi said emergency teams had already started distributing warning notices to violators who have built walls instead of hedges to surround their gardens and those who fail to regularly clean their planted areas. Enezi explained that according to the decision, owners are only entitled to use one-meter-high shrubs at the front and 1.5-m-high hedges on the sides.

Oil investment
Oil is still the world’s most traded commodity despite investment in alternative energy. According to international reports by HowMuch.net website, Saudi Arabia is ranked first amongst 100 countries in exporting oil and providing 20.1 percent of the international market’s needs, making profits of $136.2 billion in 2016. The report also showed that Kuwait came sixth, making $30.7 billion in the same period. The report also showed that five of the 100 countries provide 50 percent of oil exports, while the remaining countries provide the other 50 percent. The report also showed that apart from Saudi Arabia, three other Arab countries were amongst the top 10 oil exporters worldwide, with Iraq in the third place, UAE in the fifth and Kuwait in the sixth. The report also showed that the US came 20th with a 1.2 percent market share, Russia with a market share of 10.9 percent, Iraq with 6.8 percent, Canada with 5.8 percent, UAE with 5.7 percent, Kuwait with 4.5 percent, Iran with 4.3 percent, Nigeria with 4 percent, Angola with 3.7 percent and Norway with 3.3 percent.

By A Saleh

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