Friday, July 20, 2018

$1.8 billion bad debts for laid off expatriates

AKA "Shooting yourself in the foot."

Ok sorry, but I have to giggle....  Once again its a matter of lack of planning.  Rather than a slow, calculated transition to Kuwaitization, they decide to fire thousands of foreign workers effective immediately.  And gee - guess what happened? 


$1.8 billion bad debts for laid off expatriates
Arab Times 7/20/18

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s efforts to create more jobs for nationals by releasing foreigners working in the public sector has created a problem when thousands of laid off expatriates became unable to fulfill their financial obligations towards local banks.

Recent Central Bank of Kuwait data shows the total bad debts for expatriates during the past four year reached $1.8 billion, a sizable portion of which comprise the debts of foreigners who were laid off by the government, according to sources. Eighty five percent of those debts are owed to local banks, while the remaining 15 percent are owed to financial facilities companies.

The number of expatriate employees in state departments dropped by 70 percent in the past six months, according to official statistics released by the Central Statistical Bureau and Civil Service Commission, thanks in principle to the government’s ‘replacement policy’ that targets the complete ‘Kuwaitization’ of the public sector’s manpower by 2022. The number of expats in the public sector dropped to 80,000, compared to around 340,000 Kuwaiti employees as of the end of June.


--- End ---

My thoughts:
Perhaps the Government should forgive the loans?
Aren't the lender companies (owned by Kuwaitis) pissed off?
Aren't the real estate companies (owned by Kuwaitis) pissed off?
The only businesses I can see making money off these mass terminations are travel agencies and relocation/shipping services (which are a 1-shot revenue source); rather than prolonged addition to the economy like loans might be.
I thought there were one or two economists in parliament.... hmmmm......Didn't see this one coming.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Public Adverts for Humans for Sale in Kuwait

This is sick.  When will it stop?  I have actually seen EXPAT forums with EXPATS talking about how much they would pay for a maid.  (As in buying from their sponsor.)  Disgusting.  How can you not find this offensive?   How do you rationalize slavery??  Well, in these sick-o's minds it goes like this, "Well, they were doing better than they would be in their home country...."  Ick.  (Following this logic:  Perhaps your daughter would do better being sold to someone than she would in your home country working in a fast food restaurant, no?


Arab Times
9 July 2018  (not 1818....but 2018...)


Rights groups sound alarm over domestic workers for sale Advertisements

Such practices will affect Kuwait’s global reputation: Bouqreis
(DG:  Ya think???)
KUWAIT CITY, July 8: Widespread advertisements in electronic applications explicitly saying “Domestic Workers for Sale” are among the individual practices rearing heads to distort and block Kuwait’s efforts in fighting human trafficking in the face of confident steps taken to preserve its white dress in this regard, reports Al-Rai daily.

Human rights groups in Kuwait have sounded the alarm, cautioning against complacency with declarations of this nature that waste the effort to preserve Kuwait’s international image in terms of human rights. While noting that Kuwait did not ratify the Migrant Workers Convention, its officials considered the imbalance was not due to the absence of laws but leniency in its application.
In this context, Khaled Al-Humaidi President of Kuwait Society for Human Rights affirmed that “sale and purchase of workers and offering them as a commodity via social media is considered trafficking in humans with full integrated elements and cannot be seen in any other angle.”
He stressed that human trafficking operations are in fact a very serious and cruel crime that humiliates and denigrates the human soul by treating them as a commodity instead of a person. “This is a flagrant violation and exploitation of human rights — especially for women working in the domestic sector, he added, saying serious crime is perpetrated against the individual who loses his or her humanity and entity and freedom in deciding the place of work when they are exploited either for material gain or other purposes in cases where they are made to move to another place of work through coercion.”

Monitored

Al-Humaidi concluded that Kuwaiti Society for Human Rights have monitored a large number of cases of human trafficking on social networks and service sites, and “in response to this dilemma, we call upon the concerned authorities to act and arrest traffickers and hold them accountable without complacency, in recognition of the obligations of the State of Kuwait to promote human rights and the fight against trafficking in humans”.

Secretary General of the National Association for Family Security Dr Mariam Al-Shammari had a different opinion. She defined human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, harboring or receiving of persons by means of threat, use of force or other forms of coercion such as abduction, fraud, abuse of power or exploitation of a situation of vulnerability.

She classified human trafficking into three main groups; trafficking for forced labor, sexual exploitation or trafficking in human organs. According to this definition, advertisements for the sale of domestic workers in Kuwait are not considered a real and practical type of trafficking in humans; rather, it’s a mistake in the use of the term (which was circulated unconsciously or unaware of the dimensions of its use or the abuse it represents).

For certain reasons, a family may wish to do away with the services of a domestic worker or driver, while the other party also wishes to remain in the State of Kuwait for work. National Association for Family Security rejects this type of advertisement because it imposes suspicion and envisages domestic worker as a commodity that can be sold or exchanged. She pointed out that “the State of Kuwait, its humanitarian leader, government institutions, and civil society organizations rejects everything that touches human dignity and fights human trafficking.”

“Yes, we have noticed the presence of advertisements for the sale of servants and resignation of servants on social media. It is a mistake using the term for transfer of services, because it is contrary to Kuwaiti and international labor laws,” statement said, noting “it affects the reputation of Kuwait, so we must prevent its spread and correct the misconceptions about the way domestic workers move from one house to another to prevent the use of the term housemaid to housekeeper.” It’s the duty of the government to prevent and criminalize advertisements that harm the State of Kuwait.
It is also necessary to conduct an extensive information campaign to introduce the rights of the parties to the contract, such as working hours, leave and end of service benefits. It should also include penalties in case of violation to guarantee the rights of both parties, while protecting the right of the employer to prevent him from falling into trouble in the wake of the ignorance of labor law, and to prevent exploitation of employers and domestic worker by some service offices

Human
Hadeel Bouqreis — proprietor of a school for human rights said what is happening in Kuwait, as regards the sale and purchase of domestic workers under the eyes and ears of government institutions and civil society organizations, is called trafficking in human beings in a situation where a person is sold from one family to another in a trend resembling the revival of slave trade era.
It amounts to deprivation of rights of domestic workers, which also contributes to promoting the concept of trafficking in humans. She added, “Certainly such practices will affect Kuwait’s global reputation in the field of rights, because when you translate the vocabulary of the advertisement it shows the reader that what is happening is a form of sale, and these words unfortunately are sometimes circulated as “I bought a worker”. All this makes us confirm the translation of those ads indicates “human trafficking operation”.

She continued “Kuwait is one of the countries that did not ratify the Migrant Workers Agreement, and there are companies trading in workers who pay huge sums to come to Kuwait. We have seen the UAE human rights committees addressing violations in employment contracts, while we have in Kuwait a number of problems unresolved so far. The new domestic labor law is not applied and there’s no monitoring mechanism to follow up these laws.



--- end ---

So, why isn't someone meeting with these "sellers" and making deals, then arresting the offenders? Ironically, if you posted an ad saying you were selling yourself for sex on the internet (aka prostitution),  you'd have a bunch of law enforcers on your doorstep in a heartbeat....  aint that a thang?  

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I hear my neighbor being beaten by her husband every night. What should I do?

(Photo Credit:  The Telegraph The King Khalid Foundation domestic abuse advert slogan simply reads:
'Some things can’t be covered – fighting women’s abuse together' )


I was on Facebook recently and saw a post in Kuwait (similar to others I have seen in the past) saying something to the affect of, "I hear my neighbor screaming at night.   Many nights.  I know her husband is beating her.  I can hear the children crying.  What should I do?"

My knee-jerk reaction is, ' Call the police, dumbass.'

What shocked me were many of the comments - by WOMEN.  Often advising not to call the police because it would "make trouble."  Fellow women.  Sisters.  Women who might be in the same or similar circumstances someday in their lives who need help.  Woman-the-f-up and do the right thing!

When are people's attitudes going to change?  Especially women's?!

Someone is screaming.  There are children involved.  If it sounds like a beat-down, it's a beat-down.  Call the effing police.

One comment (again by a woman and similar to quite a few others on the post) advised the poster to bake the woman a cake and try to befriend her.  Bake her a cake.  (Allow me to let that sink in.)  Bake her a cake.  Effing ARCHAIC!  Are we in 1940?  You can bake her a cake after the police haul her husband off.  You'll have plenty of time to chit-chat and have cake and tea while her bruises fade and her children get psychological assistance.


I know there are female lawyers and groups willing to help women in Kuwait with domestic violence emergencies, but I personally don't know the emergency numbers (and I'm super-nosy and keep records of this information, so obviously it isn't being publicized enough if it is out there).  Can anyone send me the contact information so when I see these awful posts, I can advise?



Thursday, May 31, 2018

Gluttony and Bad Traffic: My Ramadan

Thank you, Al-Hajeri/Al-Saraie Family!

Thank you, Kim! 

Happy birthday, girl!

Thank you, Al-Roomi family!

Thank you, Mom & Dad Al-Enezi!


I'm not fasting.  I have no shame about that.  What I do in Ramadan isn't to pretend - I just eat when invited.  And lately I've been invited - a lot.  I don't, however, think it is appropriate for my hosts (adopted Mom & Dad)  to tell me that I've gained weight and then insist that I eat heaping plate loads of food.  It isn't fair.  Tell me that I'm "too skinny and should eat more."  That will do it.

I'm loving the food.

What I'm not loving is the traffic.  Holy sh...  This year it is the worst EVER.  I've been in a lot of near misses this Ramadan and then the people who are at fault start honking.  Kuwaitis never used to use their horns before; it would have caused a fight. Not anymore.  We are a suburb of Egypt and the honking is ON.

Taken by ME, at 12:32 am in downtown Kuwait. 

So anyhoo, that is my Ramadan summary in a nutshell:  lots of food and bad traffic.  It was 107 today.  I was in traffic.  I had to eat to make myself feel better.  Yeah... that's the excuse....

Hope you all are having a happy Ramadan! :)


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

UAE announces visa reforms to lure investors, boost economy



 Arab Times
5/22/18



ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates has announced plans to allow 100 percent ownership and visa incentives to foreigners, in a bid to attract investors to boost its slowing national economy. The decision, taken by the UAE cabinet Sunday night, aims to lure “international investments and exceptional talent”, according to Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Al-Maktoum. 

(Continued...)

Meanwhile, in Kuwait...



Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Al-Hashem Speaks on Behalf of Expats (AGAIN)


Talking out her (___) again....

Arab Times today:

“What experiences are we talking about? They (the expatriates) simply do not care about Kuwait’s development. Their main concern is getting high salaries, live a prosperous life in a country that has never asked them to pay any fees for all the services it offers them free of charge.” Al-Hashem stressed, “The expatriates have never worked even for one day to train the Kuwaitis and make room for them. I hope the decision will be implemented. I will be very keen that this agreement includes all foreign consultants working in the state institutions and occupies important posts in the country.”

B, please!  Are you speaking as an Expat?  Are you speaking as someone who fought for Kuwait during 90/91?  Are you speaking as someone who had friends that DID and left their friends, family, jobs, livelihood to help Kuwait?  Are you speaking for those of us who mentored young Kuwaitis in the local market?  Are you speaking for those of us who actually TOOK A PAY CUT TO MOVE TO KUWAIT and face uncertainties?  

HER main concern is getting a higher salary and living off the xenophobic fears of others.

Monday, April 30, 2018

I DO NOT GIVE MASSAGES. NOT NOW. NOT EVER.




Hey dumbass men:

I don't give massages.
Not now.
Not before
Not ever.

And if you write to me, I will report you; 
as mixed gender touching of any kind 
(including hair cutting) 
is illegal in Kuwait. 




Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Help find this Stolen Dog from Firdous

Posting for a stranger.  I can't imagine if this happened to me.  Dog thieves are the worst.

This dog was stolen from a locked area outside their home.



500 KD reward.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

FEAR REMITTANCE TAX MAY DENT KUWAIT HUB HOPES

Boo hoo....


FEAR REMITTANCE TAX MAY DENT KUWAIT HUB HOPES – DECLINE IN REMITTANCES
Levy may dampen investment interest – Bill seen to risk international reputation

Arab Times
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 warnings 

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.


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The so called "economist"/"financial expert" with a PHd who was pushing for this wasn't aware of the repercussions?


Friday, March 30, 2018

Finally - Voices of Reason.... IMF puts the brakes on the plan

To continue the "Squeeze the Expat Till they Leave" theme, taxation of remittances (taxing money to be sent back to your home country) has become another big issue lately. 

So today I saw an article that had a voice of reason in it.  People are starting to wake up to how truly stupid some of these negative policies are - and by saying that, I mean stupid for Kuwait, its economy, its reputation and its people. 

It will - and is - having a boomerang effect.  Look at the real estate market:  tanking.  It seems like Kuwait is struggling with its identity (again?).  On the one hand, there is a desire for inbound tourism and being an international financial hub.  On the other, there is a very distinct desire to leave Kuwait for Kuwaitis.  Both sides have a valid argument (one locked in the stone ages);  but realistically, only one can win out (and I don't see how kicking expats out or making their lives harder will help the country).

Sidebar:  I commented on Facebook (related to the Bidoon issue) recently and someone wrote back, "Don't be a hypocrite.  I've seen your comments and how you talk bad about Kuwaitis."  Completely irrelevant to the Bidoon issue, regardless, but I wanted to note that I love Kuwait and Kuwaiti people (for the most part).  I love Americans and the American people (for the most part).  I think there is good and bad in every society.  What I comment on is politics and/or negative changes (again this is my perspective) taking place in Kuwait.  I'm not here to trash anyone for being from a particular country, of a particular color or sexual orientation or religion or anything else.  Please don't be offended/git yer panties in a bunch.  

Ok, so on to the article.  Kuwait has for YEARS been trying to obtain an international trade agreement with the US [Trade Agreement Act (TAA) compliance through World Trade Organization].  Kuwait Vision 2035 makes reference to steps on how Kuwait plans to accomplish this.  (I don't believe that discriminatory practices against foreign workers in Kuwait is mentioned.  You can check it for yourself.)  "These objectives are sought to be attained by promoting open and liberal trade both of Kuwait and its trading partners, by following the principles and rules of the WTO and by entering into mutually advantageous arrangements directed to the elimination or substantial reduction of tariffs and other barriers to trade and to the elimination of discriminatory treatment in international trade relations."

Of note, if any Kuwait company offering products wants to get onto the US Government's procurement system (also known as the General Services Administration - GSA Schedule), they are SOL as Kuwait is not a TAA compliant country.  Ooops.  Why?  Last I heard there was an issue of ensuring enforcement of licensing of software.  I'm sure there are other issues.  Info about Kuwait and WTO HERE.

So with all the yackety-yack about taxing foreign worker remittances from Kuwait (which sounded like a faaaaaabulous way for Kuwait to make some extra dinars); the International Monetary Fund has stepped in and said, "Yo, you guys aren't playing by the rules."

I am SURE that the story below will come as a huge blow to one particular xenophobic MP; a highly educated economist who (one would think) should know better about economics!

And this (finally) is what the article says:


Kuwait cannot impose remittance tax on expats – Ownership rights better than taxation

Arab Times, KUWAIT CITY, March 29: Kuwait cannot impose tax on the remittances of expatriates because it is a member of international financial organizations and has signed agreements for establishing those organizations which require commitment from all members to abide by the relevant regulations that include avoiding restrictions on the current payments, reports Al-Anba daily.

According to Article 8 of the agreement for establishing International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is not allowed for any member country to take discriminating procedures in terms of currency exchange or participation in activities that result in multiplicity of currency prices.

In the explanatory memo, IMF stated that if the difference between the buying price and selling price of currency exceeds two percent, approval of IMF is required.

It is worth mentioning that the relevant parliamentary committee announced the preparation of a proposal to impose four percent tax on the remittances of expatriates.

According to experts, this proposal contradicts the vision of turning Kuwait into an international financial hub.

It will force efficient expatriate workers to leave, especially with the loss of the benefit of working in countries that do not impose such tax and since most of the workers in the GCC countries receive low income.

Researcher Mohammad Ramadan said the tax will bring about more harm than benefits. He highlighted the experience of the United Arab Emirates in creating investment opportunities for expatriates to invest their money, stressing that such a step will be more profitable for the state instead of imposing taxes. Ramadan indicated that imposing such a tax will leave expatriates with no choice but to search for other ways to send their money, even through illegal methods. He added that allowing expatriates to own real estate in Kuwait is a good way of taking advantage of their money.

Meanwhile, experts stressed that Germany has about 19 million immigrant employees, and the average amount remitted annually by them is about $ 5 billion. On the other hand, Kuwait has about three million expatriates but they remit about $15 billion per year.

According to IMF, the maximum revenues expected from imposing this tax are about 0.3 percent of the total national revenues of Kuwait, which is $4 billion. This amount is very less compared to the amount required to bring about the required economic reform.  

(DG:  a mere drop in the bucket.  Imagine how much Kuwait would earn from people who could buy homes, bring their families, and inject money back into the local economy As it stands now, expats are leaving Kuwait in droves as things are getting very uncomfortable.)


And from another story

“Meanwhile, legal advisor at Kuwait Human Rights Society Abdul-Rahman Al-Ghanim indicated that Kuwait is a signatory to international conventions against all forms of discrimination. He wondered how the Parliament could think of imposing taxes on expatriates alone, excluding the citizens. He argued that imposing tax on expatriates’ remittances contravenes the human rights convention in one way or another.

Another expert in legal affairs, Dr Muhammad Al-Ahmad, stressed that the Kuwaiti Constitution does not permit discrimination between humans living on this land.


He cited Article 29 of the Constitution which stipulates: “All people are equal in human dignity and in public rights and duties before the law, without distinction to race, origin, language, or religion.” He also cited Article 24 of the Constitution which states that “social justice shall be the basis of taxes and public imposts.” He affirmed that any legislation which violates the Constitution will never see the light, warning against putting more pressure on the foreign labor force.