June 2, 2020
“Financial Security is crucial for your family, and I have a large family. Money does matter when you don’t have it. When you need it, you realize the value of it. In that sense, money will always have a value.”Katrina Kaif
In this COVID-19 pandemic, everyone needs financial assistance for each other. However, the personnel of bank establishments encounters high risks as they remain open to the public. During this time of quarantine, they aim to provide access to the people of their financial savings.
In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health announced 887 new COVID-19 cases with six additional deaths and 1,382 recoveries. It brings to a total tally of 28,649 cases, with 226 fatalities and 14,281 recovered cases. Within the new cases, 314 are Kuwait citizens, 201 are Indian residents, 115 are Egyptian residents, and 96 are Bangladeshi residents. In the governorates, there are 300 cases in Farwaniya, 216 in Ahmadi, 173 in Jahra, 117 in Hawally, and 81 in the Capital. Among the residential areas, Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh is the highest with 76 cases. Compared to yesterday’s report, the new number of cases increased.
Resumption of Bank’s Operations
Many residents and citizens worry about the closing of banks during the first phase. Initially, the government planned to reopen its services in the second phase. Because of this, the Council of Ministers directed the Banking Association to resume their services on June 2, 2020. The banks begin to reopen their branches. Their working hours start at 9:00 am until 1:00 pm as they will receive corporate and individual customers. During the first phase, they will provide all their banking services with their electronic services, including local financial transfers and abroad, and cash through ATMs.
Following the authorities’ decision, the following banks announced to the customer of their opening hours in specific places.
It is a good thing that the Council of Ministers heeds to the community about their problem of the closing of banks during the first phase. It is indeed difficult not to be able to access their money in case of emergency, especially with the “No Work, No Pay” situation. The expatriates were also happy with the decision that they can send money back to their families. The authorities responded to the citizens and residents with great concern for their welfare and needs.
The Situation of the Shops and Business Stores
As the country undergoes its first phase, the Municipality released a list of shops and businesses, which can fully operate from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm during the first phase. It is the following.
- Food centers
- Restaurants / Cafés
- Serving meals / Bakeries
- Fish/ Meat / Poultry / Vegetables & fruits shops
- Pharmacies/ clinics / private hospitals
- Industrial activities & crafts
- Car wash / Cars showrooms/ Auto parts
- Equipment showrooms/ Repair /Maintenance
- Maintenance shops of all kinds
- Telecommunications / Internet stores
- Opticians shops
- Feed & seed shops in all regions
- Seed shops in agricultural areas
- Exchange companies
On the other hand, they also released the activities or businesses that they prohibited during the period. It is of the following:
- Commercial complexes/ Restaurants
- Beauty Salons
- Shisha Cafes
- Sports Clubs
- Men / Women Health Clubs
- Cultural Festivals, Seminars / Courses
- Wedding Events / Halls
- Media Interviews
- Fish / Vegetable auctions
- Public Parks
- Public Transport
- Sports Fields / Arenas
- Cinemas / Theaters
The Fish markets including in Sharq also reopened today with new distancing measures. However, barcodes are required to buy in the markets.
In isolated areas, mobile groceries provided foodstuffs for the citizens and residents. Because of the restricted movement in these areas, it is an excellent idea to implement mobile groceries. In this way, the citizens and residents do not need to go outside as they quarantine themselves in their homes.
It is sad to know that another cooperative employee succumbed to coronavirus infection. His name is Abdullah Al-Tahhan, who worked in the Adailiya Cooperative. I hope the cooperatives can find a way to protect the employees served the community amid the pandemic.
Weekly Cabinet Meeting
The Kuwait Cabinet held its weekly meeting as Minister of Health Sheikh Dr. Basil Hammoud Al-Sabah explained to them the latest developments about the spread of coronavirus globally and regionally. They also discussed the country’s health situation after completing the implemented comprehensive ban as the implemented first phase started under the five-stage plan of a gradual return to normalcy.
The Council of Ministers appeals to all members of the society to implement preventive measures and health requirements stringently. They said that the success of the country’s return to normalcy depends on the degree of the community’s adherence to health requirements and instruction. They must shoulder social responsibility for all.
The General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers submitted and prepared a plan to organize a unit who will follow up and implement the health requirements recommended by the authorities. The authorities approved the plan as the country starts the stages of its normalization plan.
They also assigned the Central Agency for Information Technology in creating a central platform that manages government appointments. It will enable the auditors to obtain appointments before reviewing the government agency for compliance with the health measures, primarily physical distancing.
They mandated the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiaries to establish medical booths in halls 5, 6, and 8 at the exhibition grounds in Mishref Area. They will provide them with all the necessary facilities and equipment needed for their operation in an integrated manner.
Inability to Renew Residency
The authorities reported that 120,000 residency law violators who were registered in the system of Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Interior could not renew their residency even if they pay their fines. Currently, the amount of their fines is KD 72 million. No matter how long they can remain hiding in the country, the authorities will deport them immediately.
The authorities blacklisted their names in the system after failing to go to concerned authorities during their one-month amnesty. The Kuwait government granted the amnesty in April as a humanitarian gesture. It allows them to leave the country without them paying their fines and the cost of travel. They are also entitled to return to the country. However, the specified expatriates did not heed to the repeated warnings and appeals by the Interior Ministry.
When the authorities investigated the violator’s details, they discovered that majority of them are residing in Kuwait illegally for a long time. These expatriates ignored many amnesties in the past as they hide illegally from the security officials. Additionally, they belonged to more than 15 nationalities worldwide. Within them, 30,000 are Indian residents, 25,000 are Bangladeshi residents, 20,000 are Egyptian residents, 12,000 are Sri Lankan residents, 10,000 are Filipino residents, 9,000 are Syrian residents, 8,000 are Ethiopian residents, 4,000 are Pakistan residents and 4,000 are Indonesian residents. Overall, they owe the country KD 72 million.
Nevertheless, 15,000 residency violators remain eligible for the renewal of residencies despite not availing the amnesty. It is because of the travel ban restrictions, or a pending lawsuit is imposed on them.
These expatriates are disappointing as they continue to hide in the dark. The Kuwait government gave them several amnesties giving them a chance to get back to the country without any inconvenience and payment fines. It is sad to know that my fellow Filipinos are a part of it. I hope they will coordinate with the authorities, especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.
Public Advisory of Philippine Embassy
In Kuwait, the Philippine Embassy released another public advisory for the changes in Embassy office hours and reminders for Filipinos with confirmed online appointments. The announcement informs the applicants that its office hours will begin from 7:00 am to 11:00 am starting June 3, 2020. For those applicants with confirmed online appointments on June 3-4, 2020, they may visit the Embassy within the period. Moreover, the office requests all passport applicants with online appointments of the following reminders.
- They must save a screenshot of their confirmed appointment date and time or print their accomplished application form from the Embassy’s website.
- They must check the list of requirements needed for passport renewal and application on the Embassy’s official website.
- They must prepare the precise amount of their application fee, which is KD19.500, for passport renewal or application only while KD26.000 for passport renewal with passport validity extension.
- They must bring their refreshments and fans for the summer heat.
Online appointment slots from June 1 to June 4, 2020 are only opened for the public. It affirms that the Embassy will not accept all online appointments scheduled for 2021. Lastly, they advised everyone to follow the official accounts of the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait for future advisories on the opening of online appointment slots for June.
Today marks the 70th day of the curfew and the 3rd day of the government’s first-phase plan. I am very thankful to the Kuwait government for listening to the problems of the citizens and residents. It symbolizes that they much care for the people. With that, I hope that people will cooperate with them in return.
Majority of OFWs Abroad Don’t Want Return Home
In the Philippines, the Department of Health reported good news as the medical data shows a decrease of 1.6 per day does the number of deaths in the country. It is because of the improved treatment and patient management by healthcare facilities. I am relieved that the country is improving its healthcare treatment for COVID-19 patients.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported 12 new COVID-19 cases with five additional deaths from the Middle East. It brings to a total tally of 5.230 cases, with 347 deaths and 2,166 recoveries. Currently, 2,717 Filipinos abroad are undergoing treatment while 123 are in the Asia Pacific, 1,835 in the Middle East or Africa, 472 in Europe, and 276 in America.
Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) affirmed that the majority of over 351,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) have no intention of returning home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III that 200,000 OFWs from America, Rome, Europe, Madrid, and United Kingdom do not want to return home.
Overall, there are 351,161 displaced OFWs worldwide due to the COVID-19 crisis. These people are displaced because they were terminated from work or employed but are currently not working. In other words, they are suffering from the “No Work, No Pay” situation. However, 95,000 of them want to return home to the country.
The reason why many OFWs do not want to return home is the COVID-19 crisis that we are all facing. If they return home, I know that it is complicated to return to the country that they are working due to movement restrictions. It could be the reason they decided to stay. They also need financial assistance in their work to provide their families in the Philippines.
Even in these times of difficulty, I salute to the OFWs worldwide, especially in Kuwait, for their bravery and strength. It is challenging to be away from their families. However, they remain strong during this pandemic. For that, I have faith that we can soon return to our normal lives as we defeat the COVID-19 crisis.
“Ngunit kung ang sinuman sa inyo ay kulang sa karunungan, humingi siya sa Dios at siya’y bibigyan, sapagkat ang Diyos ay nagbibigay ng sagana at di nanunumbat.”Santiago 1:5
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