Kuwait
Last month, the Kuwaiti Legal Advice and Legislation Department invalidated the ban on employing expatriates above 60, saying it had no legal basis. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Cairo: A recent decision allowing renewal of work permits for expatriates above 60, who hold no university degree, has yet to take effect due to a lack of a health insurance mechanism, a local newspaper has disclosed.

Last week, a controversial ban on renewing work permits for this category of expatriates was abolished and replaced with a new system allowing their re-employment in return for paying an annual fee of KD500 and mandatory health insurance.

Al Anba newspaper quoted a source at the Kuwaiti Public Authority of Manpower (PAM) as saying that the agency is still waiting to be posted on the health insurance mechanism expected to comprise three segments.

“There will be a specific fee for each segment based on regulations and conditions approved in the private health insurance system,” the source said without giving details.

The source anticipated a related decision outlining the health insurance to be made next week, clearing the way for effectively removing the ban on the expatriates over 60 in Kuwait.

“Once the health insurance is conducted and the application is presented via the PAM website, the renewal will be provided automatically,” the source said.

The source noted that the new system applies so far only to expatriates above 60, who hold no university degree.

Currently, the Kuwaiti Health Ministry charges all expatriates in the country KD50 each in an annual health insurance fee.

Last month, the Kuwaiti Legal Advice and Legislation Department invalidated the ban on employing expatriates above 60, saying it had no legal basis.

The department, a Cabinet affiliate, said that the ban had been issued by the PAM director-general without authorisation.

The PAM board met last week under chairmanship of Minister of Trade and Industry Abdullah Al Salman and approved revocation of the ban and endorsed the new renewal system.

Some categories of people will be exempted from paying the renewal fees. They are children of Kuwaiti women and their husbands, holders of the Palestinian nationality, and those born in Kuwait.

The ban, which went into effect earlier this year, triggered an outcry among rights activists, who argued that it affects thousands of expatriates and their families who long lived in Kuwait.

Around 4,013 such expatriates have been forced out of the work market in Kuwait in the first six months of enforcing the ban, Al Qabas newspaper reported recently.

Critics also said the restriction has also caused damage to many employers and destabilised the labour market, robbing it of experienced workers. The ban was seen as an attempt to reduce numbers of migrant workers who account for majority of Kuwait’s population.

Foreigners make up nearly 3.4 million of the country’s total population of 4.6 million.