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Assembly committee wants total Kuwaitization by 2023

Lawmaker threatens to grill oil minister over alleged graft

MP Khalil Al-Saleh

KUWAIT: Head of the National Assembly’s committee for the replacement of expatriates in public sector jobs MP Khalil Al-Saleh said yesterday the panel is determined that the replacement of all expatriates in government jobs must be completed by 2023 in accordance with a government plan. Saleh said that at present around 80,000 expatriates hold government jobs based on official contracts, forming around 20 percent of all government employees. But he said many other expatriates also work in government jobs but are not counted among the 80,000 contract employees.

Commenting on the government’s vision which said that the replacement of expatriates may not be completed before 2028, the lawmaker claimed some advisors are obstructing Kuwaitization plans in the government. “We are not questioning their intentions, but some have been slowing the process on purpose,” he said, noting that citizens are well-qualified and that all they need to dominate various jobs is to have more trust in their potentials and administrations that fully believe in depending on citizens instead of expats in doing administrative jobs.

Saleh said the replacement policy, which began in 1997, required each ministry and government department to shed 10 percent of its expatriate employees every year to create jobs for Kuwaitis. The percentage was raised to 15 percent annually in 2007. Saleh said Kuwaitis can easily replace expats in jobs such as PC operators, programmers, data registration, administrative research and coordination, educational and secretarial services, transaction follow-up, typing, handling paperwork, telephone operators, safety and security, collectors, cashiers, warehousing, purchasing and driving.

Saleh blamed the government for failing to implement replacement plans and demanded that those who failed to carry out such plans be exposed. He said the committee will demand studies and statistics made by the government in this connection and threatened to publicly question those responsible for delaying replacement plans.

Meanwhile, MP Omar Al-Tabtabaei yesterday said he will grill Oil Minister Bakheet Al-Rasheedi if he does not confront and control what he described as a “gang” in the oil sector. The lawmaker claimed that corruption is widespread in the oil sector and called on the prime minister to meet leading oil executives and review questions by MPs to see the extent of corruption in the vital sector.

He also claimed that millions of dinars in public funds have been squandered by leading oil executives through illegally reimbursing annual leaves. Tabatabei alleged that there is a “mafia” in the oil sector and advised the prime minister to read opinions by top executives about corruption. He said that if the prime minister and the oil minister are incapable of holding corrupt elements to account and end corruption in the oil sector, they should quit.

By B Izzak and A Saleh

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