CAIRO: As Kuwait prepares to scrap a disputed ban on renewing work permits for expatriates over 60, related regulations will likely make health insurance mandatory for this category of employment, according to a media report.
Last month, Kuwait’s Department of Fatwa and Legislation rescinded the ban on hiring expatriates over 60 who do not have a university degree, saying it had no legal basis.
The cabinet department added that the ban was issued by the director general of the Public Authority for Manpower without permission.
Citing unnamed sources, Al-Rai newspaper reported that a plan is expected to make health insurance compulsory for all expatriates over 60 years of age, regardless of their educational qualifications, with the aim of reducing the financial burden on the government health sector in the country.
The sources said that Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Al-Salman requested that an advisor from the Fatwa and Legislation Department attend an upcoming meeting of the association’s board of directors, which is expected to officially approve the abolition of the ban.
The Supreme Council of Parliament will issue a new decree likely to provide for the renewal of work permits for expatriates over 60 in return for payment of regular fees in addition to health insurance policies issued by local insurance companies in line with a proposal adopted by Minister Al Salman with the aim of financial facilitation. and logistical pressures on the health sector in the country.
Al-Qabas newspaper recently reported that about 4,013 of these expatriates were forced out of the labor market in Kuwait in the first six months of implementing the decision. The ban, which went into effect earlier this year, sparked outrage among rights activists, who argued that it affects thousands of expatriates and their families who have long lived in Kuwait.
Critics also said the restrictions have also hurt many employers and destabilized the labor market, robbing it of experienced workers. The ban is seen as an attempt to reduce the numbers of migrant workers who make up the majority of Kuwait’s population.
In July, the Authenticity and Modernity Party issued another decision allowing expatriates over the age of 60 to renew their residency permits in return for paying an annual fee of 2,000 Kuwaiti dinars. The move also sparked outrage and launched a campaign by activists to demand the abolition of restrictions.
Expats, without a college degree, are estimated to be over 80,000 in Kuwait. Foreigners make up approximately 3.4 million of Kuwait’s total population of 4.6 million. In recent months, the country has sought to correct the demographic imbalance amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.