Islamist MP Al-Tabtabai fumes over Cairo Airport’s incident

KUWAIT: A National Assembly panel responsible for speeding up creating more jobs for Kuwaitis by replacing expatriates said yesterday it has decided to invite two Cabinet ministers for a broad discussion on the issue. MP Safa Al-Hashem said the panel decided during a meeting yesterday to summon Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Sabeeh and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh to discuss the government commitment to the replacement policy both in the public and private sectors.

She said the ministers should submit lists with all projects and the required replacement percentages and the extent of the government compliance to those percentages supported by mathematical tables. The panel was established a few months ago after lawmakers said they were not satisfied with government programs to lay off expatriates especially in government jobs and appoint nationals in their place.

Hashem said that the government had told the panel earlier that thousands of jobs would be created for Kuwaitis by scrapping some 3,108 jobs filled by expatriates. She said that based on available statistics, the services of 1,431 expatriate employees only had been terminated, falling short of government plans. Hashem said that there are around 12,000 unemployed Kuwaitis waiting for jobs, and that state-owned oil companies have announced that they have around 2,000 vacancies waiting to be filled.

She described the government statements on the issue of employment for nationals at the expense of expatriates as contradictory, noting that the panel understands that some jobs are not acceptable to Kuwaitis. According to figures released by the panel last month, some 350,000 Kuwaitis and 100,000 expatriates are employed in government jobs and MPs insist that many of them are not needed.

In another development, Islamist MP Waleed Al-Tabtabai said yesterday that he was stranded at Cairo Airport for 12 hours without any reason before he was allowed to enter Egypt to attend an Arab parliamentary meeting. Tabtabai travelled to Egypt as a member of a Kuwaiti parliamentary delegation to the meeting but he was stopped at the airport for 12 hours whereas other members were allowed to go. Tabtabai has been highly critical of the Egyptian regime.

By B Izzak