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Special team recommends steps to address Kuwait’s demographic imbalance

KUWAIT: As a result of the delay in addressing the demographic imbalance and population structure, the Council of Ministers asked many concerned sectors to prepare their proposals and visions in this regard as a prelude to forming a specialized technical team. Sources familiar with these talks suggest that the specialized team will be tasked with putting forth recommendations and practical steps in order to take immediate measures to achieve more balance in the demographic structure by cutting the number of excess foreign labor in the country, while setting more controls for labor recruitment from abroad.

The sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity could not provide details about those steps, but mentioned that the Civil Service Commission, Central Statistics Department, Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Public Authority for Manpower were informed about official circulars from the Council of Ministers as well as government departments who were asked to bring down the number of expat employees in the public sector to a minimum.

“The government is convinced that many issues kept it from fulfilling its promises to deal with the population structure, especially the circumstances that accompanied COVID-19 pandemic, ” said the sources. Several issues got muddled during the period, creating obstacles and negatives in the labor sector, they added. “Many expat workers got stranded in their home countries for a long period, creating a labor crisis in the country and the issue of residency violators also got compounded, demanding immediate remedial measurest.”

The new government’s working program will try to directly address those issues through a series of measures that focus on stamping out the excess marginal labor with the goal of redirecting labor recruitment to meet the market’s actual needs, the sources said.

While Kuwait’s government had previously identified the country’s demographic imbalance – stemming from the fact that only 1.5 million of the state’s near 5 million population are nationals – as an issue that needs to be addressed, no clear plans or concrete measures were made. The government at one point made promises to cut the expat population down from the current 70 percent to 30 percent, but those plans were seen to be unrealistic at the time due to the local market’s heavy reliance on exporting manpower, and such plans have since seem to have been abandoned. While there have been claims within the government that the nearly two million expatriate laborers in the job market exceed its actual needs according to sources, no actual studies were released to support such claims.

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