KUWAIT CITY, April 22: “Procedures taken by the Embassy of the Philippines in Kuwait are in violation of the international law particularly the Vienna Convention. Therefore, decisive and deterrent actions against these unacceptable and irresponsible acts can be expected”, says the National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al- Ghanim.
Concerning the actions of the embassy and the issue of employment of Filipinos, he said, “In response to the question I submitted to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid concerning this matter, he told me today that the Ambassador of the Philippines was summoned, and was presented with many issues including the options that are being studied by Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I believe the minister has the right to disclose these options”.
Al-Ghanim affirmed that, “Anything that affects the sovereignty and dignity of Kuwait and its reputation by linking the country with irregular and nonrecurrent incidents as well as the unjustified escalation from the Filipino side will receive a response from Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.
He revealed that he obtained a request from MP Mohammed Al-Dalal to include this matter in the agenda of the coming session, adding that the lawmaker also demanded this subject to be discussed in a general debate at the session, and for the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee to prepare a report in this regard.
Al-Ghanim said, “If we are unable to complete the agenda on Wednesday, this issue will be on the top of the agenda. The government will also have several clarifications on this matter”. He added, “I would like to reiterate to Kuwaiti people that Kuwait is taking action, as per the information received from the Foreign Affairs Minister.
The Filipino side has been informed, and it has requested a short period of time to rectify its status, statements and procedures”.
Meanwhile, MP Yousef Al-Fadhala said he sent a letter to the National Assembly, requesting for Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee to be assigned to investigate the issue of smuggling Filipino maids, an issue of which videos have gone viral on social media such as Twitter and Facebook. He demanded for representatives of Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be invited in order to hear their statements in this regard.
MP Al-Fadhala also demanded the committee should complete its report within one month from the date of its assignment of the task.
Kuwaiti police arrested two Filipinos for allegedly convincing housemaids to run away from their employers’ homes as the Philippines’ ambassador faced questions for comments about his embassy’s work in aiding abused workers, authorities said Sunday.
The arrests, reported by the state-run KUNA news agency, come as relations are tense between Kuwait and the Philippines, which sends many domestic laborers to the Gulf Arab country.
Already, the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases, culminating in a February incident that saw a Filipina’s body discovered in a freezer at a Kuwait City apartment abandoned for more than a year.
KUNA said Sunday the two Filipinos acknowledged convincing the maids to leave. It wasn’t clear what law the two men were accused of breaking, though KUNA said the two “confessed to the crime in addition to other similar offenses that had been committed in various regions of the country.”
The arrests came after Kuwait summoned the Philippines ambassador over comments he made that were reported in local press about the embassy’s effort to rescue domestic workers who are abused by their employers. Ambassador Renato Villa was quoted as saying his embassy moves in to help the abused if Kuwaiti authorities fail to respond within 24 hours.
Villa’s office said he was unavailable for comment Sunday. Duterte in January complained that cases of abuse reported by Filipina domestic workers “always” seem to be coming from Kuwait. There have been prominent cases of abuse in the past, including an incident in December 2014 where a Kuwaiti’s pet lions fatally mauled a Filipina maid.
The Philippines banned workers entirely from Kuwait after the discovery of Joanna Demafelis’ body in a freezer in February. In late March, Lebanese officials said 40-year-old Lebanese national Nader Essam Assaf confessed to killing the woman along with his Syrian wife, who remains at large. Authorities say Assaf faces a possible death sentence. More than 260,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, many of them as housemaids. Kuwait and the Philippines have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there.
Philippine officials have demanded that housemaids be allowed to hold their passports and cellphones, which is normal for skilled workers like teachers and office workers. But many Kuwaiti employers seize their phones and passports. Around 225 undocumented Filipinos including six undocumented Filipino kids were repatriated to the Philippines on Sunday under the Kuwait Amnesty Program. The last batch of repatriates was fl own via Qatar Airways and all tickets were shouldered by the Philippine government.
Around 5,060 undocumented Filipinos availed the three-month amnesty that started on Jan 29, 2018. As of Sunday night, some undocumented Filipinos went to the embassy and took the last flight out before midnight. “On behalf of our Ambassador Renato Pedro Villa, we would like to thank the Kuwaiti government for giving this amnesty in 2018. We would have not repatriated successfully more than 5,000 undocumented Filipinos without their help — the Kuwait Immigration authorities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the media for helping us in the information campaign. Thank you,” stated Philippine Consul General Noordin Pendosina Lomondot, who fl ew with the last batch to Manila.
Most of the undocumented Filipinos worked as Household Service Workers (HSWs) who left their employers after experiencing various forms of maltreatment such as physical, verbal or sexual abuse, non-payment of salaries, lack of food and overwork.
They all thanked the Kuwaiti government, the Philippine Embassy and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for the free air tickets.
The undocumented Filipinos were ferried to the airport accompanied by the embassy staff and the Department of Foreign Affairs Office of the Undersecretary of Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) Augmentation Team from Manila.
Spotted also at the airport was visiting Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola who joined the team in sending off the last group. There are around 8,000 undocumented Filipino workers in Kuwait based on the records of the Ministry of Interior and the embassy earlier targeted to repatriate at least 65% of the undocumented OFWs.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim & Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff and Agencies
GENEVA (Reuters) - Melons contaminated with deadly listeriosis bacteria were exported to at least nine countries from Australia, where an outbreak has killed seven people and caused one miscarriage, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
The rockmelons, or cantaloupes, were sent to Hong Kong, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and may also have gone to the Seychelles, a WHO statement said.
Between Jan. 17 and April 6, Australia reported 19 confirmed and one probable case of listeriosis, all of whom were hospitalized. Seven died.
The Listeria monocytogenes bacterium has a potentially long incubation period, usually one or two weeks but possibly up to 90 days, so more cases may be reported, the WHO said.
“Cases in the affected countries may still be identified,” it said.
The Australian melon producer, which the WHO did not name, recalled the fruit on Feb. 27.
On March 2 Australian authorities discovered the firm’s melons had been exported, and they sent detailed notifications through the International Food Safety Authorities Network to the countries concerned.
“It is believed that the cause of the outbreak was a combination of environmental conditions and weather contaminating the surface of the fruit, with low levels of the bacteria persisting after the washing process,” the WHO said.
“The grower continues to work closely with the relevant authorities and has returned to supply rockmelons (during the week starting 2 April) after testing cleared the property.”
Listeriosis can come in a mild form that causes diarrhoea and fever in healthy people within a few days.
But it also has a severe form that can cause septicemia and meningitis among more high-risk people, such as pregnant women, infants, old people, and people having treatment for cancer, AIDS or organ transplants.
The severe form has a 20-30 percent mortality rate.
As well as unwashed fruit, high risk foods include dairy products made of unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, deli meat products, ice creams, raw seafood, crustaceans and shellfish.
A separate listeriosis outbreak in South Africa killed at least 180 people earlier this year, sparking a class-action lawsuit against South African food producer Tiger Brands.
Reporting by Tom Miles, editing by David Evans
KUWAIT CITY, April 3 : According to a recent academic study, 53.8 percent of university students eat fast food four times or more during the week, despite the availability of homemade food in their houses.
The high level of fast food consumption in Kuwait is due to addiction to its taste and the encouraging environment in the country.
The study was conducted on a sample of 297 female and 124 male university students of ages ranging between 18 and 30 years. About 56.5 percent of them are of average weights while 43.5 percent of them are overweight or obese. These students prefer fast food, especially burgers and French fries.
The study stressed the need to launch food awareness programs to increase the level of knowledge about the health damages caused by fast food addiction.
KUWAIT CITY, April 4: Director of Human Resources Department in the Ministry of Education Saoud Al-Jowaiser has refuted rumors that spread among expatriate teachers about bargaining with those whose services were terminated to allow them to transfer to another sponsor in lieu of their end-of-service benefits, reports Al-Rai daily.
Al-Jowaiser stressed that the rumor is baseless as the ministry does not mind if these teachers transfer to other sponsors upon the termination of their contracts. He went on to say that the ministry continues to appoint expatriate teachers under the second contract with the same conditions, as the Civil Service Commission (CSC) did not issue an official directive about any amendment in this regard.
He affirmed the contracts for new teachers stipulates indemnity and there is no truth to the allegation that they will be appointed under special contracts stipulating wages based on the work done. On the other hand, an official in the educational sector has warned about the possible shortage of teachers in certain subjects at the beginning of academic year 2018/2019, particularly in schools located in remote areas as Kuwaiti teachers will most likely reject such posts.
Source: Arab Times
Levy may dampen investment interest – Bill seen to risk international reputation
KUWAIT CITY, April 4: The government is determined in its stance to reject the parliamentary bill to levy the remittances of expatriates even though it was approved by the Parliament’s Finance Committee last Sunday.
According to sources, the government expressed concern over the impacts of such a move on the goal to transform Kuwait into a financial and commercial hub.
There is a need to study the matter from all angles related to application and procedures, and the changes it will bring about.
The stance of the government, particularly of Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Kuwait, is based on seven factors. They are:-
■ Taxes weaken the financial stability of the state
■ The law poses risks to Kuwait’s international reputation
■ It weakens the ability of Kuwait to combat money laundering
■ Controlling the emergence and growth of black market in the banking sector will be difficult
■ Controlling the movement of remittances from the banking sector will be difficult
■ It will directly impact the operations aimed at attracting foreign investments
■ The mechanism for applying taxes and the relevant work processes in the banks to carry out the deduction process during the remittances are not clear
The sources explained that the government of Kuwait is keen about working on transforming Kuwait into a financial and commercial hub through the launch of major developmental projects with the aim of attracting foreign investors and improving the status of Kuwait.
However, the adoption of the bill to levy the remittances of expatriates could negatively affect the fulfillment of this goal.
Decline in remittances
The remittances of expatriates in 2017 reached a total of KD 4.1 billion. However, compared to the remittances worth KD 4.56 billion sent in 2016, 2017 registered a decline of ten percent.
In 2014, the remittances sent were a total of KD 5.1 billion, which was the highest in seven years, in line with a record increase in the oil prices.
The remittances of expatriates from Kuwait equal nearly ten percent of the local revenues and exceed one-third of the total revenues of Kuwait.
In the last two years, the remittances of expatriates in Kuwait recorded a huge fluctuation. During the third quarter of last year, the remittances had reduced by 8.1 percent, reaching KD 940 million. This was the first time since 2012 that the remittances are less than one billion.
Money laundering and black market
In the Basel Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Index of 2017, Kuwait came third among the Gulf countries and fourth among the MENA countries in terms of fighting money laundering and financial terrorism.
Qatar came first and the United Arab Emirates was last in the Gulf level. In the index issued recently, Kuwait recorded 5.53 points to occupy 90th rank in the international level.
Experts highlighted the negative impacts of applying the parliamentary bill on the banking sector, as it may lead to the emergence of a black market for expatriates to remit their earnings through “shadow companies”, which the supervisory bodies are trying to eliminate.
International financial institutions are warning against imposing taxes on the remittances of expatriates. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stressed in its report that levying the remittances of expatriates will have negative impacts on the private sector, and will increase the cost of production.
However, if the move is accompanied with increase in salaries, it will reduce the competitive ability of the private sector. IMF said the move will also lead to absence of supervision and emergence of black market.
Levying the remittances of expatriates will eventually prove to be ineffective and difficult to manage because it will lead to transfer of remittances from the banking system and encourage lack of financial intervention.
KUWAIT CITY, March 28: Acting Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs Major General Fahad Al-Shuwei, during the ceremony, highlighted the controversies related to major traffic violations which result in deportation of an expatriate violator.
He assured expatriates by saying, “There will be no deportation except for two cases, which are driving without license and carrying passengers as taxi without necessary license”.
Major General Al-Shuwei revealed that some motorists who receive driving licenses are unaware of the traffic culture, affirming that the ministry will facilitate its capabilities to spread traffic culture and awareness.
In response to a press question concerning news which is being circulated about issuance of 330,000 driving licenses to Egyptian expatriates, Major General Al-Shuwei clarified that the correct number is 196,000, and not 330,000, indicating that all these licenses were issued before 2016.
By Suzanne Nasser / Jaber al-Humoud Al-Seyassah Staff and Agencies
Source: Arab Times
KUWAIT CITY, March 18: Police are looking for a Kuwaiti for torturing his Indian domestic worker, reports Al-Rai daily. It has been reported the victim is not under the sponsorship of the Kuwaiti.
It has also been reported the sister of the suspect felt pity for the Indian, came to her rescue and took her to the Adan Hospital.
The victim has deep cut on the head and bruises on the hands and arms. The victim then contacted her brother who is working in Kuwait and the latter filed a complaint with the police. He has also submitted a medical report from the hospital. The source said the Kuwaiti is expected to be referred to the Public Prosecution after interrogation