Kuwait
The Legal Advice and Legislation Department has invalidated the decision, issued in August last year, saying the ban had no legal basis, thus clearing the way for scrapping it. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Cairo: A senior Kuwaiti official has been referred to an interrogation for issuing a controversial decree banning expatriates above 60 who hold no university degree from renewing their work permits, local media reported.

A government agency last week invalidated the ban.

Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Al Salman has referred Director-General of the Public Authority of Manpower (PAM) Ahmed Al Moussa to questioning for exposing Kuwait to legal consequences by issuing the ban without authorisation, Al Rai newspaper said.

The ban, deemed illegal, could have also resulted in economic and humanitarian consequences, Al Qabas said, quoting well-informed sources as saying Al Moussa’s referral came upon a recommendation from the council of ministers.

The Legal Advice and Legislation Department has invalidated the decision, issued in August last year, saying the ban had no legal basis, thus clearing the way for scrapping it.

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

Around 4,013 such expatriates have been forced out of the work market in Kuwait in the first six months of enforcing the decision, Al Qabas said, citing unspecified statistics.

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.

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.

In July, the PAM issued another decision allowing expatriates above the age of 60 to renew their residency permits in return for paying annual fees of KD2,000. This move also sparked an outcry and unleashed a campaign by activists demanding cancellation of the restrictions.

Expatriates, who hold no university degree, are estimated at over 80,000 in Kuwait.

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

The country has in recent months sought to redress its demographic imbalance amid fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.