KUWAIT: Government statistics revealed 802,000 expats entered Kuwait during the past five years – from 2015 until the end of 2019, a local daily reported yesterday. The statistics, which were sent to the National Assembly, showed a notable drop in the influx of expat labor, reaching its lowest level in 2019 at nearly 91,000 expats, Al-Qabas reported. The number of expats who entered the country with work permits during 2018 and 2019 is nearly 188,000, compared to more than 222,000 who arrived in the country in 2017, which means the number of expats who entered the country in 2017 exceeded total arrivals in 2018 and 2019.

Meanwhile, ministerial sources said smart hiring of labor will be a pillar in the strategic plans to deal with the imbalance in the country’s marketplace, which includes the nationalization of government and private marketplaces, and employing technology and digital transformation to limit the need for expat labor, which has already contributed to the reduction of the number of guards needed at the social affairs ministry.

“There are five effects of marketplace imbalance which are related to security, social, economic, cultural and construction dimensions, and 10 direct repercussions of these effects,” the government sources argued. They said this imbalance leads to inflation and concentration of certain nationalities in limited areas, risks of the spread of immoral behavior and increase in cost to the government due to the subsidy policy.

Furthermore, they mentioned other effects including strengthening the culture of dependence on expat labor at work without transferring knowledge, damage to infrastructure and healthcare in particular and “uncivilized gatherings in the absence of labor cities.”

“The effects include alien customs that do not match the society’s culture, in addition to the rise of uneducated males and the lack of added knowledge or investment value of marginal labor,” said the sources. They added that the relative median rate of the total number of Kuwaitis working in the government sector during the period from 2002 until 2019 reached 74 percent compared to 26 percent of expats during the same period. It said the percentage of increase of Kuwaitis in the public sector during the 2002-2019 period reached 115 percent compared to 85 percent for non-Kuwaitis during the same period.