A festering dispute between the Minister for Foreign Employment and the licensed employment agencies has put on hold some 10,000 domestic job visas for Kuwait, job agency officials said yesterday.
The dispute emerged over an insurance premium scheme which recruitment agencies claim is not practical. The Secretary for the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies (ALFEA) Faizal Makhim said the insurance company in Kuwait that received approval from Colombo - Al Haouq- was demanding KD 50 while another agent was offering its services at a mere 20 KD. He indicated bureaucrats were on the take. Kuwaiti employers are unwilling to come up with the insurance cover of 50 KD and have begun to look elsewhere for domestics” Mr. Makhim said.
He added Kuwaiti authorities had warned they would shut out Sri Lankans from this sector if the matter was not resolved quickly.Minister for Foreign Employment Mr. Kehiliya Rambukwella said the insurance agent was contracted after proper procedures were adhered to. He alleged the man who is offering a lower premium was never in the frame when the adverts were made public.He added that the so-called job agents in Kuwait were in fact Sri Lankans who were creating this issue along with their counterparts in Colombo. “The agents make sizeable commissions from each worker, and it is their responsibility to furnish the insurance payment and not the employer.
An agent charges something like KD 400 from an employer in return for a domestic and nearly 50% or more ends up in their pockets. They (the agents) are bickering about this insurance fee because it will have to come from their personal resources, and as a result are making a huge issue out of all this”, Mr. Rambukwella pointed out.
“There is nothing to feel jittery about the Kuwait market, since there are thousands of job vacancies in other West Asian capitals. In fact, the Government is seriously considering in drastically reducing the number of women leaving for domestic chores overseas. “ I intend to stem the women cadre to about 25 percent before the years end since it is ruining families back home and creating other social issues,” he added.