By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: The ministry of commerce and industry confirmed to Kuwait Times yesterday that the official fee for recruiting domestic helpers from abroad includes the cost of the air ticket of the worker. Ministry decree 33/2021, published in the official gazette Kuwait Al Youm last week, set the fee for hiring domestic workers through recruitment agencies at KD 890, or KD 390 if the sponsor provides the passport of the worker to the agency.

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As the decree doesn’t mention details about what this fee includes, some agencies are trying to take advantage of people’s lack of information. A recruitment agency contacted by Kuwait Times said the fee does not include airfare, while other agencies said it includes the price of the air ticket.

“The agency is obliged to pay for the ticket, otherwise the customer can file a complaint against the agency. But the fee of KD 890 does not include quarantine charges, which is set by the ministry of health,” a commerce ministry official told Kuwait Times. One of the agencies said the quarantine fee is around KD 170, but Kuwait Times could not confirm the exact charges as the ministry of health did not respond to repeated queries.

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Previously, the fee for importing domestic workers was different depending on their nationality, and prices differed from one agency to another. But this new decree set a unified fee that applies to all nationalities and all agencies.

Ali Al-Shammouh, Secretary General of Kuwait Union for Domestic Labor Offices, told Kuwait Times earlier this month that Kuwait will face an acute shortage of approximately 160,000-180,000 domestic helpers by Ramadan (in mid-April).

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He said the shortage existed even prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but worsened when the airport was closed during the lockdown last year. Many domestic helpers then left the country for good following the reopening of the airport.

 

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