Panel rejects exorbitant fees proposal on expats – Drivers license for KD 1,000 & vehicle annual renewal fee of KD 500
Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Interior and Defense have unanimously rejected the controversial proposal submitted by MP Safaa Al-Hashem in January, which urged the Government to impose exorbitant fee of KD 1,000 on any expatriate applying for driver’s license, in addition to the annual renewal fee of KD 500 and extra KD 500 for the renewal of vehicle documents.
The MP had also called for the dismissal of applications for renewing the documents of vehicles 10 years old and above. The committee also refused another proposal from the MP suggesting that family visa applications other than those submitted for parents should be rejected, and that visit visa fees should be increased by 100 percent.
She had also recommended stipulation of 10 years maximum residence visa for expatriates, within which it should be renewed once, with the exemption of few extremely important professions.
In their opinion, members of the committee observed that the first proposal was very essential in reducing the rate of traffic congestion but the associated fees were outrageous. They understood the majority of expatriate workers receive meager salaries that are insufficient for such fees. They stated that all members of the committee were unanimous in their decision to reject the proposal after thorough deliberations and exchange of viewpoints.
As regards the second proposal, they said the idea of preventing expatriates from inviting members of their families other than parents and increasing visa fees by 100 percent amount to extra burden on the sponsors.
They stressed that fixing a maximum period of ten years for residence visa could as well be detrimental to the labor market, because there will be shortage of the needed workers.
However, the committee approved the recommendation to mandate contractors handling government projects to ensure their workers travel back after completing projects. It also included the idea of activating the role of government electronically to evaluate the actual number of workers the companies need for projects, and to stop random assessments.
Meanwhile, the committee approved a proposal submitted by MP Mohammad Al-Huwailah concerning the need to construct military cities in the north and south to stand as the first protection front of the country. He recommended the construction design must consider the inclusion of units, formations, facilities and hotels to host military delegations. Information Minister Mohammed Al-Jabri has confirmed that the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) will soon grant compensation to owners of farms in the area allocated for the railway project in Wafra, says MP Nasser Al- Dosari.
Al-Dossari disclosed the minister has informed him that the authority coordinated with the Fatwa and Legislation Department and Ministry of Finance on the disbursement of compensation to the concerned farm owners. He explained the compensation will be computed based on the amount that the farm owners spent on the existing structures in their farms. He added the authority also asked the Municipal Council to adopt a scheme to grant these farm owners alternative agricultural plots. He thanked the minister for his quick action in compensating these farm owners, stressing that he will follow up the issue until the end.
Meanwhile, MP Abdullah Fahad attributed “social differences among workers to injustice and disparity in the salary scale.” He argued each job is different from the other technically and professionally, such that the problem will not be solved through the strategic alternative salary scale alone. He suggested the focus should be on the salary ladder in general due to the discrepancy between employees of ministries and other government agencies. He also stressed the need to ensure justice for all and to clarify job descriptions.
He warned the lawmakers will not support the government if it intends to approve the strategic alternative salary scale at the expense of citizens under the pretext of inflating the salary chapter in the State budget. He called on the government to stop wastage of public funds, particularly the items on donations and gifts. “In general, the problem lies in the government’s mismanagement and lack of planning.”
On the other hand, items in the agenda of the National Assembly session slated for Feb 13, 2018 include the 39th report of the Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee on the proposal to add a paragraph to Article 20 of law number 12/1963 on the internal regulations of the Assembly. The proposed paragraph states: “No judicial decision on the imprisonment or any sentence restricting freedom of a National Assembly member shall be implemented until the pronouncement of the sentence.”0