Kuwait Local Time

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Procedures for replacement of sponsorship system considered

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour is seeking a recommendation to establish a separate budget for Labour Public Authority when it prepares the budget for financial year 2014-15, in April.

The suggestion was made by Dr. Husain Al Duwaihees, the Assistant Undersecretary for Financial and Administrative Affairs, in his letter to Undersecretary Abdulmuhsin Al-Mutari. This was in response to letter from Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Sheikh Salem Al-Sabah.

The letter details procedures that need to be implemented in order to begin ‘separating’ Ministry’s budget. They mention the need to outline the ‘organizational structure’ for the Labour Public Authority, which includes naming Directors and staff, including General Director for the Authority. The procedure also suggests changing the Ministry’s name to ‘Ministry of Social Affairs’, after the labour department becomes an independent unit. While the parliament passed the law to establish the Authority early this year, there has since been not date to begin operating.

The new authority is thought to be a good replacement for sponsorship system by handling the affairs of expatriate labour forces including recruitment in local companies. The authority is thought to be an answer to demands that call for scrapping the present system which has been thought to be responsible for injustice to workers.

One of the main negative aspect of sponsorship system is that it allows visa traffickers to release work permits on fake companies or non-existent job openings, and then sell them to unskilled labour force who are desperate to work in Kuwait. On reaching Kuwait, workers in most cases, end up with no jobs, and resort to accept hard labour, and live without valid visas.

The Minister of Social Affairs has identified such workers as target of plan announced to deport 100,000 expats each year as part of scheme to reduce expat population in the country by one million in a decade.

There are at least 90,000 people living illegally in Kuwait. The official figures and those doing menial jobs along with workers are often referred to as ‘marginal labour forces’. The sponsorship system lacks sufficient regulations to regulate the affairs of more than 800,000 domestic helpers in Kuwait. Kuwait is home to 2.6mn expatriates who constitute 68 percent of the 3.8million population in Kuwait.

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