3,000 expatriates layoff

Muna Al-Fuzai

The Civil Service Commission is forming a committee to follow up the implementation of the Civil Service Council resolution no. 11 of 2017 on the procedures for allocating Kuwaitis for government jobs to replace expats. The plan is to lay off 3,000 expatriates working for the government sector in the new financial year, as it is difficult to lay off all expatriates working in the government at once.

Everyone knows that jobs in Kuwait are linked to either the public or private sectors. In the private sector, the owner of the capital and the company has the right to appoint whoever he wishes – both expatriates and citizens, but the issue of appointing expatriates in the government sector has become a formidable burden on the government.

The number of Kuwaiti graduates and their entry into the labor market in the government sector has continued to increase. Some of the jobs carried out by expatriates are administrative and not technical or training, so they can be easily filled by nationals. But I do not think that the government sector can be prepared to let go of expats with technical jobs and good experience.

In January, MP Khalil Al-Saleh proposed a law on national employment in non-governmental organizations, which aims to compel the private sector to implement the state’s declared policy of replacing national labor with expatriate workers. I have seen the proposal and one of the suggestions – that government agencies which enter into contracts with non-governmental entities need to determine the number of workers required for the implementation of the contract with the job titles and the required expertise. The priority in job appointments goes to citizens before expatriates, provided that the contracts stipulate financial penalties for violating the terms for national employment.

Kuwait now has a large number of projects in the energy sector. Therefore, attention must be paid to this issue so that young people can gain good experience away from routine government work. It is also an opportunity for citizens to work with expatriates who have experience. According to the government’s decision, the Civil Service Commission will prepare a study for the next fiscal year 2019/2020, which includes the definition of functional groups covered by the recruitment of posts, the target percentage of Kuwaiti employees in the total workforce in the government agency and non-Kuwaiti employees whose services should be terminated.

I believe that the implementation of the policy of replacing expatriates with Kuwaitis in the government sector is not an easy task and may need a 10-year plan, more than five years after the date set by the parliamentary employment committee, especially in the ministries of health and education. We all know that some jobs, such as doctors, engineers, teachers and cleaners, are important for the government sector. But administrative workers in HR and administrative affairs can be easily replaced.

I think it is no longer easy for elderly expatriates who work in government agencies, especially those over the age of 60 for example, to stay longer unless they are highly experienced and want to get an exemption. This issue may seem sensitive to some expats in the government sector, but young and fresh graduates need jobs too. Where will these young people go? Should they go to another country for work? Kuwait is a rich country capable of absorbing its citizens. If the government sector becomes overcrowded, it must be taken into account that the private sector will always need the expertise of expatriates, and can accommodate both.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
[email protected]

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