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KUWAIT CITY, Feb 26: Minister of Health Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah said the government has proposed re-evaluation of health fees for expatriates. Asked about the study on the negative and positive aspects of the fee increase, the minister confirmed a committee has been formed to conduct the study and prepare a report on the new fees stipulated in decision numbers 293 and 294/2017. He explained the re-evaluation will be based on the comments and questions raised by hospitals and health centers.

Meanwhile, MP Adel Al- Damkhi has affirmed that the National Assembly succeeded in playing its supervisory role and it is now heading towards issuing “quality legislation” through the amendment of some laws enacted by the previous legislature. “These amendments are important, considering there is no shortage in legislation and the problem lies in the implementation,” he added.

On the performance of the Assembly, Al-Damkhi disclosed the lawmakers focused on more on the oversight aspect of their functions at the beginning of the term and they are now working on the legislative side. He pointed out the previous legislature passed many laws “but we will amend some of these laws due to their negative impact on Kuwait’s image; such as the Juveniles, DNA, National Human Rights, Pre-Trial Detention and Public Tenders laws.”

 He claimed the media laws ratified by the previous legislature restrict freedom, including the Electronic Media Law (cyber crime) and many others. On another issue, the Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee rejected the proposal to amend Article Four of National Human Rights Commission Law number 67/2015, stating that approval of the National Assembly is not required in the appointment of the commission’s president and his deputy.

The committee argued the proposal calls for the amendment of the aforementioned article; so the appointment of the board members of the commission shall be through an Amiri decree based on the nomination of the Council of Ministers, while the president and vice-president are appointed without obtaining approval from the National Assembly. The proposal is aimed at rectifying a constitutional flaw in appointing the above mentioned officials as it contradicts the separation of powers principle.

 

By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff

Bid to cover manpower needs for 13 projects

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 27: The Ministry of Health has asked the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to create 2,140 job vacancies for non-Kuwaitis in order to cover manpower needs for 13 new projects and expansion works which will start soon, reports Al-Anba daily quoting sources.

Sources disclosed the required functional degrees for non-Kuwaitis include 600 doctors who will be assigned at Jaber Al-Ahmad Hospital; 1,540 nursing jobs and 240 technicians. Sources said 1,540 job openings will be distributed to various facilities and new projects that are aimed at providing the best services to patients.

The daily obtained a copy of the report released by the ministry recently; indicating 13 construction projects will be launched soon including seven health centers, Amiri and Jaber Al-Ahmad hospitals. Meanwhile, in response to a parliamentary question submitted by MP Osama Al-Shahin, Minister of Oil and Minister of Electricity and Water Bakheet Al-Rasheedi revealed that there are about 1,000 non-Kuwaiti employees at Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) who receive monthly salaries of KD 1,000, reports Annahar daily.

He explained that these expatriate employees work as lawyers, consultants, administrative employees and engineers. Besides salaries, they receive benefits in the form of plane tickets for their families, housing allowance, health insurance, private car and allowance for meeting educational expenses.

These expatriate employees are from countries such as Pakistan, Venezuela, Yemen, Oman, Turkey, Syria, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Palestine, Mexico, Lebanon, Jordan, Colombia, Britain, Bolivia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Australia, America, Algeria, Ecuador, South Africa and France. There are also 570 Indians, 102 Egyptians, 40 Canadians and 35 Filipinos.

Most of their monthly salaries are around KD 1,000 and above. Al-Rasheedi affirmed that all secretarial positions are occupied by Kuwaiti citizens, adding that KOC does not have any contracts for assistant positions. He revealed that there are 33 expatriate employees including 12 executive secretaries at Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and they receive salaries of around KD 1,000 per month.

In this regard, a source from the oil sector said Al-Rasheedi’s response was not sufficient, as he did not mention the job scale of expatriate employees. He clarified that they receive similar salaries to Kuwaiti employees as well as benefits, indicating that there are larger number of expatriate employees at KOC and KPC whose monthly salaries range from KD 700 to KD 1,000.

The source revealed that the sum of the salaries of expatriate employees at KOC and KPC is about KD 1,600,000 per month, which comes to about KD 20 million per year.

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 27: Results of a poll conducted by HSBC Bank revealed that salaries of expatriates in Dubai are higher than their counterparts in Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Singapore, New Zealand, Tokyo and Sydney, reports Al-Qabas daily.

In addition, companies in Dubai offer some of the most generous employment packages to expatriates who receive $138,177 a year and this is higher than the global average of $99,903.

These figures were based on data that HSBC collected from more than 27,000 respondents who participated in the ‘Expat Explorer’ poll.

Despite the high salaries of expatriates in Dubai, results of the poll showed that Mumbai, India is the most generous as expatriates there receive $217,165 per year — the highest in the world. For expatriates in Kuwait, the average salary is $123,044 per year and Kuwait ranked 17th among the world’s cities in terms of salaries given to expatriates.

The annual salaries of expatriates in Abu Dhabi and Doha are higher than those in Kuwait.

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 22, (KUNA): The Cabinet’s decision to assign Al-Durra Manpower Company to bring in workers from new countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nepal, and others will lower recruitment fees and ensure the rights of employers and employees, the company’s General Manager Saleh Al-Wuhaib, said Thursday.

The company is working hard to bring domestic workers from new countries in coordination with the concerned Kuwaiti authorities, Al-Wuhaib told KUNA. He also stressed the company’s efforts to ensure the employees were healthy and fit to work, saying that such efforts will be in coordination with the Ministry of Health and the countries providing manpower. He explained that the company handles all recruitment procedures with a symbolic prices, high efficiency, and speed of completion in addition to qualifying them through courses in their countries.

Al-Durra is the first company in Kuwait to be formed from national bodies concerned with the public’s interest. It was established to achieve a qualitative leap in this type of business, as it carries a national and humanitarian vision in the management of the labor market, he said.

The company started to bring in experienced Sri Lankan cooks with recruitment fees of KD 500-600 ($1,650-1,980). Their salaries range from KD 120-170 ($400- 560). Al-Wuhaib said that external bodies of employment abroad are responsible for determining the fees for labor recruitment in accordance with the laws of those countries, adding that the cost of recruiting Sri Lankan domestic workers was at about KD 960 ($3,215) with the company gaining 10 percent from the recruitment process.

The rise in the cost of recruiting Sri Lankan domestic workers is due to the increase in the fees of the employment offices in Sri Lanka, with range between KD 550-600 ($1,815-1,980), as well as the official procedures of medical examination, transportation and fingerprinting, that coast about KD 240-300. The company receives about 200 daily calls from customers to request the employment of Sri Lankan workers, said Al-Wuhaib. He added that the prices of recruiting labor at private agencies was between KD 1,200-1,500 ($3,960-4,950).

Al-Durra for Manpower Company, in accordance with Law No. 69/2015, is a Kuwaiti company specialized in the recruitment of foreign workers, its ownership is distributed between the Union of Consumer Co-Operative Societies by 60%, General Authority for Investment with 10%, General Organization for Social Insurance 10%, the General Authority for Minors Affairs 10% and Kuwait Airways 10%.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Lebanese man suspected in the death of a Filipina maid whose body was found stuffed in a freezer in Kuwait has been arrested, the Philippine foreign secretary said Friday.

Alan Peter Cayetano said he has told President Rodrigo Duterte about the arrest in Lebanon of Nader Essam Assaf but added that Assaf’s Syrian wife, who is also a suspect in the death of Joanna Demafelis, remains at large.

The discovery of Demafelis’s body on Feb. 6 in the apartment in Kuwait City, where it had reportedly been kept for more than a year, sparked outrage and refocused attention on the tragic plight of poor Filipinas toiling mostly as maids abroad. It prompted Duterte to ban the deployment of new Filipino workers to Kuwait, where many abuses have been reported.

Assaf and his wife employed Demafelis. Duterte and other officials have asked Kuwaiti authorities to hunt for the couple.

“Assaf’s arrest is a critical first step in our quest for justice for Joanna and we are thankful to our friends in Kuwait and Lebanon for their assistance,” Cayetano said in a statement, adding that he expects Kuwait will seek Assaf’s extradition.

After attending Demafelis’s wake on Thursday in her hometown of Sara in the central Philippines, Duterte told reporters the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait would continue and could be expanded to other countries.

Duterte said Demafelis’s body bore torture marks and signs that she was strangled. He said the government is conducting an assessment to “find out the places where we deploy Filipinos and our countrymen suffer brutal treatment and human degradation.”

The Philippines is a major labor exporter with about a tenth of its more than 100 million people working abroad. The workers have been called national heroes because the income they send home sustains the Southeast Asian nation’s economy, accounting for about 10 percent of its annual gross domestic product.

Philippine officials are under increasing pressure to do more to monitor the safety of the workers, who are mostly maids, construction workers and laborers.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told a Senate hearing that he recalled three labor officers from Kuwait to be investigated over their failure to act on a request by Demafelis’s family for help after she went missing in January last year, he said.

Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration reported at least 196 Filipinos had died in Kuwait in the last two years, mostly for unspecified medical reasons but also four from suicide.

Monitoring their wellbeing is difficult due to the sheer numbers of workers but also by improper documentation. Nearly 11,000 of the more than 252,000 Filipino workers in Kuwait are there illegally or are not properly authorized.

KARACHI: China has been quietly holding talks with Baloch militants for more than five years in an effort to protect the $60 billion worth of infrastructure projects it is financing as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Financial Times claimed on Monday.

Three people with knowledge of the talks told the paper that Beijing had been in direct contact with militants in Balochistan, where many of the CPEC-related schemes are located.

“The Chinese have quietly made a lot of progress,” one Pakistani official told Financial Times. “Even though separatists occasionally try to carry out the odd attack, they are not making a forceful push.”

For more than half a century, Beijing has maintained a policy of non-interference in the domestic politics of other countries. But that has been tested by its desire to protect the billions of dollars it is investing around the world under its Belt and Road Initiative to create a “new Silk Road” of trade routes in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Pakistani officials welcome negotiations between Beijing and insurgents

As it seeks to boost the Chinese economy, China’s plans for the new Silk Road has pitched it into some of the world’s most complex conflict zones.

Chinese peacekeepers are already in South Sudan, where Beijing has invested in oilfields and is planning to build a rail line. China has also contributed troops to a UN peacekeeping operation in Mali and even talked about launching attacks against the militant Islamic State group in Iraq, where it has been the largest foreign investor in the country’s oil sector.

In Pakistan, Beijing appears keen to fill the void left by Washington, which has drifted from its former ally after becoming frustrated at Islamabad’s failure to tackle extremism.

Some have warned that China’s investment could lead to Pakistan being treated like a client state by Beijing, despite promises that Chinese troops would not be stationed there.

The paper claimed that the Pakistani officials welcomed the talks between Baloch rebels and Chinese envoys, even if they do not know the details of what has been discussed.

“Ultimately, if there’s peace in Balochistan, that will benefit both of us,” said one official in Islamabad.

Another said that the recent decision by the US to suspend security assistance to Pakistan had convinced many in Islamabad that China was a more genuine partner.

“[The Chinese] are here to stay and help Pakistan, unlike the Americans, who cannot be trusted,” the official said.

Chinese officials did not comment on the talks, though the Chinese ambassador to Islamabad said in a recent interview with the BBC that militants in Balochistan were no longer a threat to the economic corridor.

One provincial tribal leader said many young men had been persuaded to lay down their weapons by the promise of financial benefits.

“Today, young men are not getting attracted to join the insurgents as they did some 10 years ago,” he said. “Many people see prosperity” as a result of the CPEC, he added.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2018

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 14, (Agencies): His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah congratulated the Iraqi people on victory achieved and that led to the defeat of the so-called Islamic State (IS) and banishing it from most of its soil. His Highness’ remark came during the official inauguration of the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq (KICRI) on Wednesday.

The significant level of participation in this Conference, either government, civil or private, came as a global recognition of the magnitude of sacrifices by Iraq in its fight against terrorism, His Highness noted, pointing out that the international community sough to reward these sacrifices that turned lives of Iraqis in IS-controlled areas into a “living hell”.

Results of this Conference are a continuation of all “our” efforts, His Highness said. “Yet, we should not neglect the suffering of our brothers in Syria and Yemen due to the ongoing conflicts taking place there, but we are confident that we and the international community will support them as soon as security and stability are restored.” His Highness added that the magnitude of destruction inflicted on Iraq by terrorist groups could not be overlooked, which requires Iraq to embark on an inclusive reconstruction process that would cover infrastructure and other public utilities; a task that cannot be endured by Iraq alone, and a matter that urged “us” to call on the international community to partake and shoulder its responsibility.

“In light of our realization of such consequences, we considered the vital role of the private sector in reinvigorating the investment environment in Iraq. Last night, more than 2,000 businesses from the private sector came to examine investment opportunities in Iraq. Also, non-governmental organizations contributed in lessening suffering of the Iraqi people.” His Highness, during the speech, extended appreciation to Iraq, the United Nations, the European Union and the World Bank, all as co-chairs of KICRI, along with the host country. His Highness concluded by announcing a $1 billion in loans to Iraq through Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, as well as another $1 billion in investments in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Kuwait Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah said Wednesday that total contributions by countries participating in Kuwait International Conference on Reconstruction of Iraq (KICRI) reached $30 billion. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said, in his speech at the closing session of ministerial meeting, that this amount came as result of a broad momentum that came from 76 participating countries, along with 51 international development funds, 107 local and international NGOs, in addition to 1,850 representatives from the private sector.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Al-Maatouq, chairman of the International Islamic Charity Organization (IICO) said the number of pledges at the NGO Conference to Support the Humanitarian Situation in Iraq has reached $337 million. Al-Maatouq, made this announcement in his capacity as a representative of the NGO meetings at the closing session of the Ministerial Meeting of KICRI, during which he reviewed the results of NGOs conference. Al-Maatouq added that these pledges will be in accordance with humanitarian and development programs in Iraq, especially in areas affected by armed conflicts there, which will be distributed in the areas of health, housing, education, rehabilitation and other humanitarian fields. IICO chief noted that participants from all parties stressed importance on the need to respond to the humanitarian situation in the areas affected by the armed conflicts and on establishing a mechanism to follow up on the execution of these programs through periodic meetings and follow-up reports.

On another front, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) Abdulwahab Al-Bader said that the estimated amount needed for Iraq’s reconstruction is estimated at $88 billion, adding that the current estimated losses due to war in Iraq has reached $46 billion. Al-Bader said, as a representative of the private sector meetings in the closing session, that the “high-level experts meeting for the reconstruction of Iraq and the role of financial institutions” was held in the presence of about 420 individuals from various financial institutions, investment companies from different countries around the world. Al-Bader added participants underlined the importance of supporting reform programs in Iraq, for the purpose of reconstruction, in addition to enhancing the social aspect in different regions of Iraq, and to brief various development institutions on the reconstruction process.

Finally, the President of Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Abdulwahab Al-Wazan said that Kuwait’s private sector position coincide precisely with the State of Kuwait position in supporting Iraq. Al-Wazan added such position by KCCI would also contribute to efforts exerted for developmental projects in Iraq to the point of reaching a comprehensive viable developmental partnership based on good neighboring and joint interests. KCCI chief added that the private sector is cooperating with the Iraqi side, which he described the role as permanent and continuous, and will not end when the conference ends, but will continue with investment projects. KICRI kicked off last Monday and concluded today with participating countries, regional and international organizations.

The biggest pledge at the gathering in Kuwait came from Turkey, which announced $5 billion in credit to Iraq. Qatar, which is embroiled in a diplomatic crisis with a quartet of Arab nations led by Riyadh, pledged $1 billion. The United Arab Emirates pledged $500 million, as did the Islamic Development Bank. Germany pledged 500 million euros ($617 million) and the European Union 400 million euros ($494 million).

The United States, which has been embroiled in Iraq since its 2003 invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, did not directly give at the conference Wednesday in Kuwait City. However, it plans to offer over $3 billion in loans and other financing to help American firms invest in Iraq. Kuwait’s donation particularly was in many ways stunning as only a generation ago, Saddam Hussein invaded the country.

The donation by HH the Amir showed the deep interest his nation has in making sure Iraq becomes a peaceful, stable country after the war against IS. Iraq also still owes Kuwait reparations from Saddam’s 1990 invasion that sparked the 1991 US-led Gulf War. Of the money needed, Iraqi officials estimate that $17 billion alone needs to go toward rebuilding homes, the biggest single line item offered Monday, on the first day of meetings. The United Nations estimates 40,000 homes need to be rebuilt in Mosul alone.

The war against the Islamic State group displaced more than 5 million people in Iraq, only half of whom have returned to their hometowns. However, officials acknowledge a feeling of fatigue from international donors, especially after the wars in Iraq and Syria sparked the biggest mass migration since World War II. Iraq also is OPEC’s second-largest crude producer and home to the world’s fifth-largest known reserves, though it has struggled to pay international firms running them. The United States under President Donald Trump also seems uninterested in directly investing in Iraq’s reconstruction.

The US alone spent $60 billion over nine years — some $15 million a day — to rebuild Iraq. Around $25 billion went to Iraq’s military, which disintegrated during the lightning 2014 offensive of the Islamic State group, which grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq. US government auditors also found massive waste and corruption, fueling suspicions of Western politicians like Trump who want to scale back foreign aid. Meanwhile, regional tensions may affect how spending comes. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attended the meeting, but skipped a group photograph held before. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations attending Wednesday’s conference remain suspicious of Iran’s influence in Iraq, as well as its gains following the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Qatar, meanwhile, remains boycotted by four Arab nations, including three in the Gulf, which has split the typically clubby relations among the nations. For his part, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged all his country’s neighbors to contribute. “We need to rely on all our neighbors and friends to help Iraq invest in its future,” he said.

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