Kuwait Image Credit: File photo

Cairo: Kuwaiti authorities are expected to announce this week scrapping a controversial ban on employing expatriates above 60 who hold no university degrees, according to a local newspaper. Earlier this month, the Kuwaiti Legal Advice and Legislation Department invalidated the ban, issued in August last year, saying it had no legal basis.

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

The board of the Public Authority of Manpower (PAM) is anticipated to meet on Wednesday under chairmanship of Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Al Salman on the issue, Al Rai reported.

The PAM board is likely to approve revoking the decision banning those expatriates from renewing their work permits, the paper said, citing what it termed as well-informed sources.

The sources referred to “signs of understanding” among the board members to annul the ban at their upcoming meeting and issuing directives to the competent agencies to reinstate pre-ban regulations in renewing work permits for this category of foreign workers.

The paper, citing the sources, said one new proposal up for discussion is to levy KD250 and health insurance as prerequisites for renewal. There was no immediate comment from authorities.

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 newspaper reported recently.

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 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.