Is Kuwait reconsidering 'Kuwaitization'?
The Cabinet discussed Manpower and Government Restructuring Program’s (MGRP) proposal of changing the percentage of Kuwaiti employees in the private sector. The percentage was set in two timetables: one according to the commercial activity and the other according to profession. This system of percentage was created by the government a few years ago to encourage Kuwaitis to work in the private sector as there were no available vacancies in the public sector for fresh graduates. The policy was applied to big companies with a certain number of employees, and penalties were set for the violating companies which did not respect the percentage of employment. According to the law, the percentage should be reviewed every two years, and it can be decreased, increased, or left untouched depending on the economic situation. The recent proposed change is decreasing some percentages in certain sectors. Some percentages seem to be impossible to fulfill.
“The 10 percent Kuwaiti manpower in sales and advertising in press is impossible. Kuwaitis refuse to do this job. Kuwaitis won’t go to a client and demand an advertising. Some Kuwaitis who open advertising agencies don’t work themselves and instead, have employees do the sales and marketing job. I know they won’t work in our field,” Ahmad Fawzi, Advertizing Manager at one of the local dailies told the Kuwait Times. “Many companies can’t deal with a Kuwaiti as they are mostly Arab expats. The advertising field is not for Kuwaitis, it simply doesn’t suit them. Maybe bedoons can do it, but not Kuwaitis.
If our institution faced problems, we can employ any Kuwaiti just to avoid legal issues even if he is not really working,” added Fawzi. Mohammed Lotfi, a Marketing Manager at a medical service company said that Kuwaitis do not continue in the field of sales and marketing. “For five years, there have been no Kuwaitis working in this field but now we can find few Kuwaitis in marketing in private hospitals. In most hospitals, there are Kuwait doctors, who prefer to deal with Kuwaitis rather than expats. I think that the 10 percent quota in sales in hospitals and medical centers is really high,” he said. Adel, a recruiting manager in an import-export company is not very optimistic about applying this high percentage. “Why not if both parties agreed to work and if the employee agreed with the salary offered by the private company? I don’t see this as very realistic, though. Kuwaiti employees aren’t as efficient as expats. I don’t expect this proposal to succeed if this issue wasn’t regulated by the principle of demand and supply. I think that increasing the already existing percentage won’t encourage the Kuwait employees to work in the private sector,” he explained. Economic analyst Hajaj Bu Khadour, thinks that these percentages shouldn’t be enforced by the MGRP on the private sector. “Manpower and Government Restructuring Program (MGRP) is not performing their original role. It should be working on increasing the qualification of Kuwaiti employees in both the public and private sectors. It should be rehabilitating the employees. It should solve the unemployment problem, train and develop Kuwaiti employees in both sectors to become a good investment,” he said. “MGRP is not fulfilling its role as there are some political groups and parties that have monopoly on this program and manipulate it according to their goals. There is also a problem in the education sector as we have graduates who don’t meet the market’s criteria. In this case, MGRP can manage their training in certain fields that we need like accounting and so on to decrease the cost and spending on Kuwaiti employees and increase his qualification,” he added.
By Nawara Fattahova