MP calls to impose exit visas on expats

MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei

KUWAIT: MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei yesterday proposed imposing exit visas for expatriates to be able to leave the country, as both lawmakers and the government continue to introduce or propose measures hostile to the three million expatriates living in Kuwait. The lawmaker submitted a draft law to amend existing laws requiring that expatriates working in the private sector must obtain a special permit from the public manpower authority to be able to leave the country.

The permit can be given only after the approval of the expatriates’ sponsors, giving these sponsors an additional weapon to further consolidate their control over their expatriate employees. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the only states in the Gulf that require exit visas from their expatriate community. Kuwait is one of the most liberal states in the Gulf over the freedom of travel of expatriates.

In the past, sponsors used to seize the passports of their expatriate employees, but following a series of rulings by the court, authorities issued strict regulations banning employers from keeping the passports of their expatriate staff. Tabtabaei proposed that the exit visa measure should apply to expatriates in the private sector and domestic helpers. Expatriates working in the government already cannot leave without a permit from the government department employing them.
Tabtabaei’s proposal is the latest in a series of actions and calls against expatriates that have so far included increasing charges of water, electricity and health services, and many more appear to be coming. Several MPs led by Safa Al-Hashem have called for imposing wide-ranging taxes on expatriates including a five-percent tax on their remittances and a KD 1,200 annual fee on those who have a driving license.

Meanwhile, Oil Minister Essam Al-Marzouq said yesterday he was prepared to refute charges against him in any grilling that could be submitted in the coming term opening on Oct 24. The minister said oil projects underway will not be affected by any future grilling, adding that oil projects are being implemented in accordance with the oil sector strategy which is not influenced by political developments. A number of lawmakers have threatened to grill the oil minister over alleged financial and administrative violations that include violations in appointments to senior positions at oil companies. MP Faisal Al-Kandari yesterday threatened to grill the oil minister if he does not reform the situation in the oil sector, alleging that the volume of corruption has increased.

In the meantime, MPs Riyadh Al-Adasani and Abdulkarim Al-Kandari yesterday supplied State Minister for Cabinet Affairs and acting Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah with fresh explanations about their grilling, which the minister has requested. Adasani warned that if any points of the grilling against the ministers were removed, he will file to grill the prime minister himself.

By B Izzak

This article was published on 19/10/2017