Kuwaitization and expatriates

It is unfair to discuss this issue without seeking solutions

Muna Al Fuzai

Will the Kuwaitization of the government sector succeed in replacing expats with citizens? The Civil Service Commission intends to activate a decision to increase the number of citizens versus non-Kuwaitis in government jobs, and to grant jobs to those who are registered in the central employment system, especially after the CSC disclosed that the percentage will reach 100 percent during five years in five functional groups.

There is a local demand that expat employees in many sectors of the government, including judicial, engineering and technical, be replaced by Kuwaitis. But a set of questions comes to my mind on how ready are we for this replacement and how will we deal with all the jobs that were occupied by expatriates for many years? Do we have the national elements that are technically, legally and judicially qualified to achieve this immediately or within a year or even two?

This is if we assume that such citizens are present and ready to be hired! How will they manage the needs in those areas so that we can dispense with expats? Reducing the Kuwaitization period from five years to even fewer may seem good on paper, but the implementation will not be easy. We should not forget the efforts made by expatriates for the development of the country for decades. We are a developing country.

It is normal for any person to feel happy to see citizens working in all sectors of the country’s services, but the fact is that this is difficult in all Gulf states and not just Kuwait,because while the process is possible, it requires caution and preparation. Here is my question: What have we done in the past 20 years to say we do not need expatriate labor?

I am convinced that the success of the idea of substitution and coordination is closely linked to the response to these questions. It is unfair to discuss this issue without seeking solutions to make it a success. An example of this is the fact that judicial and municipal bodies rely on many of the skills and expertise of expats, and these divisions may not be able to provide the required services in the future.

Last month I had to renew a license that needed several visits to the municipality. I noticed that most of the workers there are expatriates who have been working for many years. The question in my mind was that if we lose all these people, do we have a sufficient national workforce?

We are confronting two issues here – habilitation and development. Without working on the right preparation process and providing sufficient numbers of citizens that are ready to work in place of foreign expertise, we cannot talk about the Kuwaitization of the judiciary, for example, without providing enough alternatives and not just fill vacancies.

By Muna al-Fuzai
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