Government’s decision to continue a ban on entry of foreigners while selectively permitting domestic workers to return has been criticized by the private sector. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, the government has introduced various measures in a bid to contain and control the spread of the infection in the country.
These restrictive precautionary steps, including a ban on entry of foreigners through the country’s land, sea and air borders, have resulted in nearly half a million expatriates being stranded abroad unable to enter Kuwait. In addition, hundreds of thousands more have lost their right to enter the country due to expiry of their residency permit while abroad.
Government’s decision to shut down airport operations on more than one occasion, halt issuing work permits, suspend direct flights from nearly three dozen countries, as well as a ban entry of all foreigners in recent months, have together led to over 468,000 expatriates being stranded abroad. More than 205,000 foreigners have also permanently lost their right to return following expiry and inability to renew their residency permits while abroad.
Decision by the authorities to selectively permit the entry of some workers while banning the entry of valid residency permit holders has been criticized by many employers in the private sector. Businesses in the private sector have long decried the government’s lopsided decision to allow the entry of domestic workers while those workers with valid residency permits have been denied entry.
They said the decision had resulted in severe loss to their businesses and a slowdown in construction projects.They pointed out that many of these workers are essential to the daily operations of their businesses and in ensuring efficient and effective running of projects.
While not denying the importance of preventive and safety measures taken by the authorities, employers demanded a standard and rationale with regard to entry of expatriates. In response, the Council of Ministers’ Coronavirus Emergency Committee is understood to be contemplating opening the borders once the country achieves the necessary community immunity threshold, by vaccinating at least 70 percent of the population.
But this is expected to be achieved only by the end of the year at the earliest, which is indeed a long time to hold up business and economic activity in the country for want of workers.
SOURCE TIMES KUWAIT