All direct commercial flights coming from India were suspended starting from April 24 until further notice. All passengers arriving from India either directly will not be permitted entry unless they have spent at least 14 days out of India, Al Jarida reported adding that it appears to be another hasty decision that will worsen the situation for Indians stranded abroad to return to the country.
Kuwait has a large Indian community working in the labor force. The new move adds further insecurity to the commercial sector, particularly as many businesses depend on foreign workers, and expats occupy significant professional positions for their much-needed expertise.
The new decision comes after Kuwait decided to halt the issuance of work permits to expats from abroad, leaving the matter in the hands of the relevant ministerial committee, as well as forbidden expats with valid residencies to return to work and contribute to the country in various ways.
The successive government decisions have made it difficult for those who want to enter Kuwait, adding to the burden in the jobs sector as expat professionals are needed in various fields. The ban on commercial flights from India, also prevents domestic workers from returning just as the government outlined an organized program to facilitate their return as many Kuwaiti families require additional help to look after large families.
The move also does not take into account the large number of advance flight reservations made by eager Indian nationals, who planned to return to Kuwait, which will force them to reschedule or get a reimbursement from airlines already in a precarious position due to coronavirus impact on the travel sector.
Moreover, many domestic workers will have lost their chance to return, leading to more expired residencies, which will further add to the woes of the domestic labor market in the country.
A number of observers raised unanswered questions with the government that if the aim of all these precautions is to protect Kuwait from the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak, then why are those who have been inoculated forbidden from entering? Does the government not recognize the effectiveness of vaccination? And if it is effective, why do you insist on halting expats from entering?
They asked about the significance of that ban decision or the extent of the need for it in light of the precautionary measures that the government has put into place including the strict medical tests and the requirement for arrivals to quarantine for 14 days.
They stressed that everyone supports the government’s decisions to stem the spread of the epidemic, but it is unjustified to stop direct flights from India, when it is possible to implement a package of strict health and preventive protocols to ensure the arriving expat workers are checked they are coronavirus free. They considered the decision to ban the entry of Indian workers as “another nail in the coffin of the labor market.”
Bassam Al-Shammari, the owner of a domestic labor recruitment company, confirmed that the government decision to prevent the recruitment of Indian workers would negatively impact the labor market in Kuwait, commenting that there were no other available options for recruitment other than the Philippines.
Commenting on the broad negative repercussions on the market as a result of this decision, Al-Shammari said that there is a decrease in the number of available domestic workers in the market, which is already suffering from a severe shortage, in addition to the high costs associated with recruiting workers of other nationalities, especially considering the increase in demand compared to the lack of supply. He revealed that this placed a harsh burden on the citizen and the expat employer financially, especially as the recruitment costs have risen due to the mandatory recruitment procedures to ensure the domestic workers are coronavirus free, and the costs of quarantine.
Highlighting that India was a major spot for domestic worker recruitment, he pointed out that the decision closed one of the most important channels of bringing in domestic workers to Kuwait, just as everyone was happy with the breakthrough that occurred when the recruitment of domestic workers from the Philippines resumed.