By A Saleh and B Izzak
KUWAIT: A technical memo prepared in cooperation with specialists from three government bodies said dealing with the population structure in Kuwait is still without clear vision or practical and carefully studied measures. It said every sector makes individual decisions alone, which has led to a shortage of labor in Kuwait and a rise in wages paid by citizens and residents.
This issue was placed on the new government’s priority list, especially as the current caretaker government is unable to take any decision in this regard. The memo represents the views of the Public Authority of Manpower, Civil Service Commission and Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Sources who saw the memo said the most notable criticism towards the current population structure is the abnormal inflation in the numbers of some communities, which constitutes a burden on the state without any justification and poses a security risk. Moreover, the majority of these expats are unskilled laborers not wanted by the market because they are marginal and concentrated in certain sectors.
Sources said the majority of these expats work in areas they are not registered at PAM and not for their sponsors, demanding an inspection program be implemented to punish every expat working elsewhere than what is recorded in their residency permit and levy a hefty fine on their employer. Such action may control the labor market and lower wages, as was the case in Saudi Arabia, which was successful.
The memo recommends a halt in bringing in workers from these countries except for specialized and technical labor the government and private sectors need, which should be under the supervision of the Cabinet to prevent the return of visa trading. It said completely stopping bringing in labor is a big mistake, as what is required is to open new markets and reduce workers from countries that have large communities in Kuwait.
Meanwhile, the caretaker government will attend an emergency session of the National Assembly on Tuesday to debate and approve a draft law granting KD 3,000 to every retired Kuwaiti. But a number of opposition MPs said they will boycott the session, claiming the draft law involves clear constitutional violations.
The draft law stipulates to pay as a grant KD 3,000 to all retired Kuwaitis from the Public Institution for Social Security, the state establishment that handles payments for pensioners. The cost of the grant is estimated at KD 590 million. But the bill also stipulates to allow the government to withdraw at least KD 500 million every year from the budget in favor of the pension agency to cover its estimated actuarial deficit based on calculations.
Opposition MP Hamdan Al-Azemi said he will boycott the session because the draft law that will be debated violates the constitution as it will allow the government to withdraw huge amounts of money in favor of the pension agency, which is illegal. Lawmakers supporting the session said they will attend in order to vote for the interests of the retired people. The bill also stipulates to increase monthly pensions by KD 30 this year and subsequently by KD 20 every year.