The decision by the Board of Directors of the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) to charge residents, who are over sixty years of age and do not have a university degree, a fee of KD2,000 for renewal, has come in for criticism from the private sector and others in the market.
Adding his voice to the overall opposition to the exorbitant visa renewal rate, the Chairman of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Muhammad Al-Saqr, is reported to have written to His Highness the Prime Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, requesting that unproductive hike in visa renewal be scrapped.
The KCCI Chairman is said to have pointed out to the premier that the decision would lead to displacement of skilled workers from Kuwait, which could have serious negative implications on the national economy. He also urged the prime minister to urgently intervene and cancel the implementation of the decision.
Disagreement to the hike in fees is apparently not confined to those adversely impacted by the sharp increase. Media reports indicate that disagreements within PAM on the fee increase are also rife.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, and Chairman of PAM board, Dr. Abdullah Al-Salman, and the Director General of the Authority, Ahmed Al-Mousa, are said to be at odds with this decision. While Al-Mousa is adamant the hike in fees should remain and be implemented immediately, the minister is recommending that the renewal fee for this segment of workers be capped at KD500, in addition to requiring separate health insurance from the visa applicant.
Failure to reach an amicable agreement in this regard within the PAM board is said to have prompted Al-Salman not to call for a meeting of the board, and to raise the issue before the Council of Ministers, so as to enable the Cabinet to take an appropriate decision in this regard.
On a related note, latest statistics from the Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) reveal that since the implementation of the decision not to renew visas of those over 60 without a university degree, a total of 42,334 expatriates left the country. Many of those who were forced out of Kuwait were people with rare specializations, those in professional cadres and experienced workers, who were reportedly promptly hired by companies in neighboring Gulf states. Kuwait’s loss is apparently their gain.
SOURCE : TIMES KUWAIT