‘Population session’ fails to take place; no quorum

KUWAIT: His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah headed the 113th (1-2017) meeting of the Supreme Council of petroleum at Seif Palace yesterday. During the meeting, participants discussed items on the agenda. — KUNA

KUWAIT: Kuwaiti MP Majed Al-Mutairi yesterday proposed an amendment to the labor law in the private sector stipulating that expatriates must obtain an exit visa in order to leave the country, similar to procedures in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Mutairi said that the measure is intended to safeguard the interests of Kuwaiti citizens who employ expatriates. He said that in some cases, expatriates who handle lots of money for Kuwaitis leave the country after taking some of the funds.

Meanwhile, a much anticipated Assembly session to debate the government’s demographic policy failed to take place yesterday for a lack of quorum with the session just two lawmakers short of the legal number to start. MPs who called for the special session strongly criticized the government and lawmakers who failed to show up. Only three ministers were present in the chamber when Speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem adjourned the session.

MPs Safa Al-Hashem, Abdulkarim Al-Kundari, Hamdan Al-Azemi, Mubarak Al-Hajraf and others strongly criticized the government and other lawmakers for aborting the session. Hashem called for raising the minimum wage for expatriates and Kuwaitis as well saying this method will force employers to recruit only highly skilled foreign labor and eventually reduce the number of expatriates. She said that when there are three expatriates against every Kuwaiti citizen, then “the country has reached the danger level” and blamed senior officials at the interior ministry for both failing to stop visa traders and benefiting from the illegal trade.

The lawmaker said that by calling to rectify the demographic structure “we are not underestimating the importance of expatriates because we still need them in many professions”. Last month, Hashem lashed out at expatriates and called for imposing taxes on them including a 100 fils tax for expats walking on the roads. The purpose of the special session was to hear a government statement about its policy on expatriates and reforming the population structure which is highly in favor of expatriates who make up around 70 percent of the 4.4 million population.

Earlier in the week, Social Affairs and Labor Minister Hind Al-Sabeeh said a higher ministerial committee on population has devised a plan under which the percentage of expatriates will be lowered to 60 percent by 2030. This means that the number of expatriates which currently stands at 3.1 million must not change until the end of the plan in 2030 because based on the growth rate for citizens, the number of Kuwaitis is expected to grow to around two million by 2030 which means that expats must be around three million to achieve the target.

In the meantime, 24 lawmakers have signed on a request to hold a special debate on the so-called bank deposits scandal in which a number of present and former MPs are involved in receiving millions of dinars in bribes for political reasons. The lawmakers want to announce the names of those politicians involved in the scandal. Assembly Speaker Ghanem and Minister of Justice Faleh Al-Azab denied yesterday that Information and Youth Minister Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al-Sabah has submitted his resignation. The two officials said that the issue is in the hands of the minister and the political leadership.

By B Izzak