Lawmakers have asked the government to suspend the implementation of a decision to terminate Bedoun employees in ministries due to lack of budget for their salaries. Commenting on the issue, MP Sultan Al-Gosaim suggested that expatriate workers in the Health Ministry should be replaced with Bedouns.
He urged the concerned authorities to rescind the decision, considering the Bedoun employees are part of the Kuwaiti society. He argued the termination of Bedoun employees is a form of oppression, especially since their salaries are low and they are under the bonus and remuneration clause. He pointed out Kuwait is a noble country so its citizens should support Bedouns to live up to its status as the International Humanitarian Center.
Meanwhile, Budget and Final Accounts Committee Chairman MP Adnan Abdul Samad said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh had earlier promised to continue the employment of Bedouns in government institutions under the bonus and remuneration clause.
This came after the spread of rumors on the intention of the ministries of Health and Awqaf to terminate the services of Bedouns due to lack of budget for their salaries. In an emergency meeting between the committee and representatives of the Finance Ministry on Thursday, Abdul Samad disclosed the finance minister confirmed the allocation of a budget for the salaries of Bedouns under the wage clause.
He said the minister told the panel that none of the ministries has requested for additional budget for Bedoun workers. Earlier, Abdul Samad condemned the Health Ministry for what he considers an oppressive act against Bedoun employees. He said these Bedouns are part of the Kuwaiti society and are related to Kuwaitis; hence, they should not be terminated. He added the lawmakers will stand against such actions, indicating the committee is contemplating on the possibility of allocating a budget for the employment of Bedouns.
He stressed that Bedouns should replace expatriate workers from East Asia, North Africa and other countries. MP Askar Al-Anezi condemned the Ministry of Health’s decision to dismiss Bedoun employees, asserting the decision is a form of negligence and the Assembly will stand against it. He warned such a decision will tarnish the image of Kuwait in the international community, because Bedouns are part of the Kuwaiti society and their termination is not in line with the status of the country as International Humanitarian Center. He wondered what could be in the minds of those behind the decision, especially since the holy month of Ramadan is fast approaching. He said the hardships of low income Bedoun employees have been disregarded and the decisionmakers seem to have forgotten that these employees are humans. He called on the ministry to reinstate the terminated Bedoun employees, particularly since their salaries hardly made a dent on its budget.
Meanwhile, MP Abdulhameed Dashti emphasized the need for the government, Parliament and concerned politicians to stand against oil sector officials who control the sector. He had previously demanded for the resignation of these officials due to their incompetence. He also accused the officials of depleting the State’s coffers for their own gain. He then asked the speaker to invite the minister of oil to an urgent meeting to discuss the issue.
On the other hand, Minister of Oil and State Minister for National Assembly Affairs Dr Ali Al-Omair asserted the defensive walls surfaced when the influential figures realized his intention to implement reforms. He said they have even gone as far as enticing the workers unions to wreak havoc by claiming that their benefits will be cancelled. He added he will no longer be surprised if a similar tactic will be used due to his decision to replace the members of the board of directors.
In another development, the Budget and Final Accounts Committee discussed Thursday the projected expenditures (goods and services) in the budgets of ministries and government departments for fiscal 2015/2016.
The expenditures are estimated at KD2,572,186,000 dinars – 34 percent lower compared to the previous fiscal year. Abdul Samad, the committee’s chairman, revealed the panel had earlier deliberated on the budget allocated for salaries in ministries and other government departments for fiscal 2015/2016.
He said the projected amount for salaries is KD 5.34 billion and this is four percent lower than the previous year. He explained the reduction in estimated expenditures has no effect on the quality of public services as the calculation was based on the actual expenses in previous years. He pointed out that despite this reduction, the committee still called for intensifying efforts to rationalize spending. He said the government should strengthen capital spending to create an investment environment for diversification of income sources due to the continuous decline of oil prices in the global market.
On the salaries, Abdul Samad said the number of employees in the government reached 356,297 and 73 percent of them are Kuwaitis. He clarified the reduction in the salaries chapter has no impact on appointments and the benefits of Kuwaiti employees as it rather resolved discrepancies by reducing the allocation for vacancies that are not filled by ministries but still spent as allowances for employees.
He revealed the committee has asked the government to restructure the labor market by taking into consideration the actual need for non- Kuwaiti employees in the government sector while training Kuwaitis who will replace foreigner workers. He added the committee has listed down financial allocations for the appointment of 16,000 Kuwaitis who are expected to graduate in the near future, indicating the projected cost is KD 140 million.