Duterte says Filipino workers in Kuwait must have seven hours’ sleep, good food and holidays

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers a speech during the 121st founding anniversary of the Philippine Army (PA) at Taguig city, Metro Manila. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 March 2018

Duterte says Filipino workers in Kuwait must have seven hours’ sleep, good food and holidays

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked for provisions such as seven hours’ sleep a day, nutritious food and holidays to be added to the bilateral agreement that is to protect the rights of Filipino workers in Kuwait.
Duterte said that he was late giving his scheduled speech at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) 39th commencement exercises in Silang, Cavite on Wednesday, because of work on the final draft of the agreement.
The president said after studying the document, he had inserted some provisions in the agreement.
“I demanded that it will be a contract — government to government — and that there will be some mandatory provisions like they (Filipino workers in Kuwait) should be allowed to sleep at least seven hours a day,” the president said.
He added that Filipino workers should also be fed “nutritious food.” “I will not, we will not allow leftovers to be eaten by our countrymen. They should be allowed to cook their own food,” he said.
The president also said that passports of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) should not be confiscated by employers and that OFWs should be allowed holidays.
Duterte reiterated that Filipinos are not slaves. “I have said that we are not slaves. Maybe our only fault would be ... because we are poor,” the president said.
Filipino Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told Arab News last week that after a brief impasse in the two-day negotiations between Philippines and Kuwait officials held in Manila, officials from both countries agreed a draft migrant labor protection pact.
In a telephone interview, Bello explained the delay was due to two ticklish issues — OFW passports being withheld by employers and employment contracts. He said the Kuwaiti officials eventually agreed to their proposals on both issues.
The draft agreement stipulates a $400 net-per-month salary for OFWs. Employers must open a bank account in which to deposit the worker’s salary. OFWs must also have mobile phones and be able to use them as well as other means of communication.
It was also agreed that an OFW must give a written consent where an employee is required to transfer from one employer to another, and that written approval for the transfer is obtained from the Philippine labor attache.


Indonesia’s Indrawati to stay on as finance minister

Updated 37 min 22 sec ago

Indonesia’s Indrawati to stay on as finance minister

  • Widodo has since Monday tapped more than a dozen candidates for ministerial posts
  • Indrawati, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been finance minister in Southeast Asia’s largest economy since 2016

JAKARTA: Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Tuesday she had been asked by President Joko Widodo to stay on in her post as his new cabinet takes shape for a second five-year term in office.

Widodo has since Monday tapped more than a dozen candidates for ministerial posts, including his presidential election rival Prabowo Subianto, who looks set to be defense minister.

The candidates — all wearing white shirts — have come to the presidential palace to be interviewed by Widodo, with most declining to confirm the positions offered ahead of an official announcement expected on Wednesday.

After meeting Widodo, Indrawati said she had agreed to stay on as finance minister and to ensure policies supported the president’s priorities such as improving human resources, creating jobs and executing government budgets well.

“Indonesia I think is facing a very dynamic and uncertain global economy and an economic slowdown that is pressuring the whole world,” Indrawati said.

“Therefore, a continued policy is needed in order to be able to guard our economy from the challenge of this global slowdown,” she said, noting she also discussed ways to narrow Indonesia’s current account and trade deficits.

Indrawati, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been finance minister in Southeast Asia’s largest economy since 2016, spearheading tax reform efforts, seeking to capitalize on a tax amnesty program in 2016-2017. She is now one of the longest serving finance ministers in Indonesia, having also held the post in the previous administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

“Sri Mulyani is seen as a key architect behind the fiscal discipline in recent years and many wish for her continued leadership in driving deeper fiscal reforms,” Bank of America wrote in a note.

The make-up of the cabinet is being closely watched to see how many technocrats — who are more likely to fall in with Widodo’s plans for boosting growth and investment — were included.

Other ministerial candidates who came to the palace on Tuesday included Basuki Hadimuljono, who is credited with driving infrastructure projects as public works minister in Widodo’s first term, and Siti Nurbaya Bakar, environment minister in the first term.

On Monday, Nadiem Makarim, the chief executive of tech startup Gojek and media tycoon Erick Thohir, a former chairman of Italian soccer club Inter Milan, were among those confirming they had been asked to join the cabinet.

Speaking to media ahead of his inauguration on Sunday, Widodo said around 16 ministers in the new cabinet would come from political parties out of an anticipated 34 posts.