New 10 year Kuwaitization plan causes concern amongst expatriate professionals

Published:  16 Mar at 6 PM
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Expat professionals working in Kuwait might well be forgiven for having a hard time making sense out of the recent conflicting statements by various government representatives as regards their long-term futures in the emirate.

The latest report, issued by the Public Authority for Manpower, affirms serious attempts are being made to implement the government’s goal of 100 per cent government sector Kuwaitization along with the replacement of admin-level expatriates at a rate of 10 per cent per year. The rationale behind this latest threat to expat jobs seems to be that, of the 1.8 million people employed in the private sector, just 73,000 are Kuwaiti nationals. The suggested solution to the imbalance is to set technical standards for each job, thus organising the labour market and enabling total Kuwaitization over a ten-year period.

At the same time, the ongoing medical controversy has reared its head again, with economic researcher Mohammed Ramadan spreading the news that Kuwait spends KD 595 million every year on expatriate-focused healthcare, even although just 6.8 per cent of users of the service work in the public sector. Some Kd773 million goes on healthcare for Kuwaiti citizens who, it seems, are suffering congestion in hospital waiting rooms and outpatient departments due to their over-use by expatriates.

According to Ramadan, the solution lies in a change of employment contracts, thus ensuring health insurance charges are covered by private sector employers, even although the move may well increase inflation as companies jack up their retail prices to compensate for the extra expense. Ramadan considers this may be a price well worth paying as it will improve medical services in general. Another of his concerns is the number of hospital beds available to Kuwaiti nationals, quoted at two per 1,000 citizens, some 100,000 of whom require hospitalisation annually as against 51,000 expat patients. Outpatient departments serve 2.5 million citizens yearly, along with a million expatriates.

Source: Arab Times
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