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Union leader slams expat curbs, blames govt failure
December 29, 2014, 8:50 am

The head of the expatriate labor office at the Kuwait Trade Union Abdelrahman Al-Ghanem condemned provocative statements made by several senior state officials, especially “those dealing with expatriates as if they are aliens and not partners in work, success and development unlike other countries”. He said the raft of new rules and regulations “will not yield any benefit, have negative effects, damage brotherly relations and inflame the feelings of people of brotherly countries”.

Ghanem accused government officials of being “experts in escaping responsibility and facing failure, which is the result of their actions, but blame the weak of the country for it”. He said the fines the Interior Ministry is now collecting from expats who are in violation of the law that links the validity of the passport with the iqama is no different than the “inventions of the government every now and then to divert people’s attention from the failures of its officials”.

Ghanem said any official who wants to become the “talk of the town” comes up with the “deportation slogan, which is one of the tools of trading in humans”. He said following the interior ministry, the municipality came up with the issue of barbequing at beaches, and wondered, “Do not you have a new word other than this?”

Ghanem was referring to a statement by Director General of Kuwait Municipality Ahmad Al-Subaih, who warned people grilling at beaches and public parks of a KD 300 fine all the way to deportation. Subaih spoke of a plan to have a link with the interior ministry to implement deportation orders against expatriates who violate municipal rules and laws including barbequing in public areas. He said the municipality has designated certain locations where grilling can be done and banned it elsewhere, but many picnickers do not comply with the law and rules. The head of the Hawally emergency team Riyadh Al-Rabae said that more that 400 citations were issued last year, adding that the Touristic Enterprises Company (TEC) spends around KD 30,000 to restore damaged areas.

Ghanem also asked about the number of iqama traders who were held to account by the social affairs and labor ministry or arrested by the interior ministry, “because they are the ones who flooded the country with simple laborers who left their families behind and sold all what they had to search for better opportunities in our country”. Ghanem urged officials to treat them with “brotherly feelings” and not as enemies, “because they have not committed crimes that deserve this attack”.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry’s PR and moral guidance manager and the acting director of the security media department Brig Adel Ahmed Al-Hashash warned that those who have not updated their passport information will have difficulty in departing the country through any exit and would be prevented from leaving Kuwait.

Hashash stressed that the recently imposed fines for delays in updating passport information are integral parts of a law that already exists and that “there is nothing new about it”. Hashash accordingly urged all expatriates and sponsors to keep an eye on passport and residency visa expiry dates so that they could update the information or transfer the residencies to new passports to avoid fines. He added that all concerned parties should check with their relevant residency affairs department and stressed that a two-month grace period is given after the old passport’s expiry to avoid the fine.

Hashash explained that those who renew their passports abroad would have to check with the immigration department within one month to transfer the residency to the new passport and avoid fines, while those who renew their passports at their embassies in Kuwait would be given a two-month grace period to transfer their iqamas. Moreover, Hashash noted that expats would be fined KD 2 per day with a maximum of KD 600, and in case both the passport and the residency have expired, the higher fine would be collected.

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