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Stateless women protest against suspended allowances

‘Death sentence for our families’

KUWAIT: Women and their children demonstrate outside the National Assembly’s building yesterday in protest against a decision to cut their social allowances. — Photo by Fouad Al-Shaikh

KUWAIT: For the second day in a row, a number of stateless mothers of Kuwaiti children demonstrated outside the National Assembly’s building in protest against a Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL) decision to suspend their social allowance. Demonstrators threatened to organize a sit-in unless the ministry revokes the decision they described as a ‘death sentence for our families’.

Protestor Um Hamad said she is a non-Kuwaiti and mother of three Kuwaiti children. “Undersecretary Hassan Kathem told us that we do not meet the conditions because our children do not work. How can my seven-year-old child work?” she asked, noting that Kathem promised to write a memo requesting to amend the law.
Another stateless mother, Um Abdullah, said she is a Kuwaiti citizen’s ex-wife. She added she pays KD 350 in rent and KD 100 in installment for her car. “After this unfair decision, me and my kids will become homeless and I might go to prison,” she said, noting that the decision was like a death sentence for over 3,000 families that had been receiving the social allowance.

“Is MSAL’s social allowance given to us the reason behind Kuwait’s budget deficit? How will we feed our children, how will we pay rent and how will we be able to educate our kids so that they can find jobs?” Um Hussein exclaimed, adding that the decision also affected Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis.

‘Chaotic’ bonus payments
Minister of Commerce and Industry Khaled Al-Roudhan issued a new administrative decision to stop the process by which annual bonuses were paid to ministry employees who are rated as ‘excellent’ in their job evaluation reports; a process that was described to be ‘chaotic’.  According to directive number 2/2017, hardworking employees and irresponsible ones used to be treated equally and they all got the bonuses according to the moods of their bosses. The new directive quoted a Civil Service Commission (CSC) stipulation which says that public employees have to actually work a minimum of 180 days a year to get the bonus. The directive also explained that employees working shifts will have to work at least 70 percent of those shifts to get the bonus. Moreover, the directive explained that actual working days would be calculated after deducting all leaves and vacations, except sick leaves. Commenting on the decision, observers said that it was a very bold one at a time when other ministers have failed in tackling this issue.

Bad services
Minister of Public Works Abdulrahman Al-Mutawa stressed that the ministry is keen on finishing maintenance operations in Hadiya and Riqqa. Speaking during a tour of both areas accompanied by MPs Nayef Al-Merdas and Majed Al-Mutairi, Mutawa stressed that both areas’ residents were suffering from bad public services. He added that maintenance would include changing the entire rainwater and sewage drainage grids and that the work would be done as soon as possible.

Subpar performance
Chairman of the parliament’s budgets and final statement committee MP Adnan Abdulsamad said that a meeting was held with Education Minister Mohammed Al-Fares to discuss the State Audit Bureau’s report about Education Ministry’s budget for the fiscal year 2015-2016. Abdulsamad said that the committee recommended setting up an auditing department within the ministry. The committee also stressed that despite spending over KD 15 billion on education in the last 10 years, the outcome of educational facilities was subpar, and more efforts were needed to improve educational quality. The committee recommended reconsidering the recruitment of expatriate teachers and instead hire bedoons (stateless) to tackle the lack of teachers in some subjects (rare specialties) such as physics and mathematics.

By A Saleh

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