Kuwait freezes contracts of 1,183 public sector expat workers

Stock Kuwait city skyline
Kuwait City skyline. As of December 2019, there were 120,000 expats, out of the 3 million residing in Kuwait, working in the public sector. In 2018, around 50,000 expats working in governmental agencies were laid off.
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Kuwait City: Around 1,183 job contracts for expats working across 48 governmental agencies in Kuwait have been cancelled, Al Rai, a Kuwaiti newspaper, reported.

The move came as part of the current fiscal year (2020/2021) budget plan and the government is ramping up Kuwaitisation, which aims at shifting workforce balance so the majority of jobs in the public sector are done by Kuwaitis.

Fifteen governmental agencies have seen job contracts being frozen, affecting around 626 expats. The ministry that was most affected by the cuts is the Ministry of Electricity, where 130 contracts were frozen.

As for governmental departments, the National Assembly saw 20 contracts frozen.

Back in June, a Kuwaiti lawmaker proposed replacing expats working in the National Assembly with Kuwaitis.

Government subcontracting agencies were also affected, as 429 job contracts were frozen, the majority of which, around 260, were expats working at Kuwait University.

In recent months, lawmakers and governmental officials have been discussing the demographic imbalance, given that 70 per cent of the population in Kuwait is made up of expats, and have submitted various plans to reduce the number of expats.

Several MPs have submitted proposals to the National Assembly. In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs has begun discussing its proposal with the National Assembly.

Although anti-expat rhetoric has been on the rise, last week the National Assembly human resources committee said that a rapid reduction of expats could have a negative impact on the market’s purchasing power, the labour market, especially the private sector, and the real estate market and private education market, according to Kuwait Times.

Expats working in public sector

A few weeks ago, governmental ministries began laying off expats, especially those working in non-technical fields.

Back in May, the Minister of State of Municipal Affairs announced plans were afoot to replace all expats working in the ministry with Kuwaitis.

As of December 2019, there were 120,000 expats, out of the 3 million residing in Kuwait, working in the public sector. In 2018, around 50,000 expats working in governmental agencies were laid off.

Currently, 90 per cent of the 1.4 million Kuwaiti population works in the public sector.

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