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Kuwait plans new rules to bring workers

Dubai: Kuwaiti authorities are planning to link several embassies abroad, mainly from countries that Kuwait hires low-paid workers from, with a central database system in Kuwait with the aim of stopping the infiltration of people using forged passport to the country, a Kuwaiti newspaper said.

Officials from both ministries of foreign affairs and interior have met last week to discuss the plan, which will be put in effect early next year, Al Rai Arabic-language newspaper said earlier this week.

The plan, with a cost estimated at 1.697 million Kuwaiti Dinars (Dh22.09 million), aims to further enhance cooperation among the concerned authorities in combating infiltration attempts using forged passports. It also aims to “arrest those who are wanted in terrorism or criminal cases, and end the embarrassment to government bodies,” wrote the paper quoting security sources.

According to the new plan, fingerprint machines will be placed in 10 Kuwaiti embassies abroad namely those from which labourers are hired and brought in to Kuwait. The machines will be also connected to a data base system which include those who are not allowed in for either security cases or violating the laws.

Previously, the work permission is issued from the Social Affairs and Interior ministries inside Kuwait before being sent to the labourer in his or her country. However, upon arrival and taking the fingerprints, authorities find out that some of them are using forged passports, or using travel documents with pictures of other people, or they are not allowed in.

In such a case, the situation is “embarrassing” to the authorities that issued the work permit, Kuwaiti journalist Mansour Al Shamari said.

But after introducing the new system, the fingerprints will be taken in the concerned countries and checked with the central data system before issuing the work permission.

“The central data has over half a million people who are not allowed in Kuwait for security reasons or for breaking the laws,” Al Shamari told Gulf News. Once implemented, the new plan will “put an end to the issue of entering Kuwait with forged passports, or infiltrating to the country,” he added.

Initially, the plan was supposed to include Arab and Asian countries, including Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

“However, because of the on-going developments in these (Arab) countries, applying the new system was put on hold temporarily until the situation settles down there,” said al Shamari. But the new regulations will be in place next year in other countries, including India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka .

As for Bangladesh, which Kuwait stopped hiring low-paid workers few years back, because of issues related to using bogus passports, Al Shamari expects the resumption of hiring workers from the Asian country after putting the new system in place.

Last month, Kuwaiti press reports said the government is working on new plans to introduce residency caps on expatriates to slash their number to 45 per cent of the population down from the current 69 per cent of the population. “The government will suggest imposing a cap of six years on unskilled labourers, eight years on semi-skilled employees, 10 years on semi-skilled employees who are with their families and 12 years on skilled employees. Foreigners with rare expertise will be given an open stay,” Arabic-newspaper of Annahar daily said quoting Kuwaiti sources.

According to 2010 estimates, the number of foreign workers in Kuwait stands at 2,340,000 and make up 69 per cent of the population, the report said. The total number of Kuwaitis is said to be 1,120,000.

A source cited by the Annahar daily said the “government is interested in proceeding with the residency cap plans after the World Bank ranked Kuwait as having the fourth highest rate of foreigners compared to the nationals.”

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