Kuwait mulling plan to cut 1.5 million expats in 7 yrs

Thousands of job titles of expats with unendorsed or no degrees cancelled

KUWAIT: Kuwait could soon implement a roadmap to reduce the number of expatriates by at least 1.5 million over the next seven years in a plan that aims at achieving a demographic balance between Kuwaitis and expatriates, a leading newspaper reported yesterday. Citing informed sources, Al-Qabas said that the fatwa and legislative department, the government’s legal body, has asked opinions from government agencies on the possibility of setting up a national committee for the organization and management of the demographic structure.

The committee, which was proposed by MPs, will enjoy extensive powers to propose and implement plans to make Kuwaitis 50 percent of the population, with expatriates not exceeding that number. The number of expatriates now is just over 3.244 million and Kuwaitis around 1.4 million, based on figures published by the Public Authority for Civil Authority (PACI).
Based on current population growth rates for Kuwaitis, they are expected to reach 1.7 million after seven years, the target of the proposed plan. This would mean that the number of expatriates must be equal to Kuwaitis, or 1.7 million. If this equation is to materialize, the number of expats must be reduced by a minimum of 1.5 million without even considering natural growth and any future recruitment.

The expected plan also envisions that the number of any foreign community must not exceed 25 percent of the Kuwaiti population. If this item is to be strictly implemented, at least 600,000 Indians and 300,000 Egyptians, the two communities that largely exceed the expected limit, must be among those who will be reduced. The proposal does not explain the mechanism for implementing the cuts and who will be included. It does not mention whether the 120,000 bedoons or stateless people will be considered expats. It does not also say if the cuts will involve 650,000 domestic helpers.

Based on previous Kuwaitis attempts, the proposed plan appears to be far-fetched and highly unrealistic, especially to be achieved in just seven years. According to the proposed plan, 10 percent of expatriate employees in the government must be replaced by Kuwaitis every year, in addition to five percent in the private sector, both seemingly unrealistic goals.
Meanwhile, government sources told Al-Rai newspaper the manpower authority has cancelled thousands of job titles of expats working in the private sector in leading positions because some of them were found to be not holding university degrees or their degrees were neither endorsed by their own countries nor by Kuwait’s foreign ministry.

The sources added that the manpower authority recently mandated the presence of the original degree officially endorsed by both the country of origin and Kuwait to renew expats’ work permits, especially after the authority found that thousands do not actually hold university degrees or hold unendorsed or unattested certificates. The sources said a considerable number of expats refused to stay in Kuwait and preferred leaving after their job titles were changed, which will greatly help in adjusting Kuwait’s demography by only keeping highly-qualified expats in the country without any exceptions.

The manpower authority is also planning to ban issuing permits to expats with university degrees entering Kuwait to work in the private sector unless they have a minimum of ‘good’ grades, according to informed government sources. Last month, a senior lawmaker said over 30 percent of expats living and working in the country are “not useful”, and the government must start practical measures to reduce the number of foreigners. MP Mohammad Al-Dallal told reporters that the large number of expatriates put major pressure on essential services and infrastructure like health, traffic and others.

By B Izzak


This article was published on 18/11/2018