‘Tightening noose on expats will not solve problem’
A number of demography experts and specialists agreed on the need to put an end to the phenomenon of visa trading if the country is serious about controlling the growing imbalance in the population structure of the country. They affirmed that deportation of a large number of expatriates is not the best solution because it will encourage visa trading, harm the Kuwaiti economy and affect the country’s reputation.
They agreed that there is a high number of marginal labor force that the country does not require but the process of removing them should not affect other expatriates who contribute to the national economy. The experts insisted that tightening the noose around expatriate workers by imposing new fees or applying laws retroactively will not help solve the problem related to imbalanced population structure especially since such steps will force efficient expatriates to choose labor markets of neighboring countries.
Administrative expert Dr Abdullah Abdul Jader affirmed about the existence of imbalance in population structure not only in Kuwait but in all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. He explained that in the recent meeting of GCC labor ministers, 31 discussions were held on the demographics of their countries and its seriousness.
Important recommendations were proposed with focus on the need to legalize foreign labor rates in consideration of the proportion of different nationalities in each country. Dr Abdul Jader revealed that Kuwait has a population of 4,093,162, out of which only 1,272,076 are Kuwaitis.
There are 1,167,448 expatriates working in the private sector and 50 percent of them, which is equivalent to 588,224 workers, are working for nonproductive employment (marginal and working for only two hours or less).
He denied the rumors that Kuwaitis do not work while expatriates are committed to performing their duties for full working hours or at least 80 percent of the daily working hours. He also denied some studies which stated that Kuwaiti employees do not work more than an hour or two a day.
Dr Abdul Jader stressed that non- Kuwaitis do not work for more than two hours a day and this is evident from the number of expatriates seen in public parks and streets during working hours which imply that they work for very few hours.
On the other hand, Professor of Sociology Dr Mohamed Al-Muhaini said, “Even though the demographics reveal the existence of a large number of expatriates in the country, there is no reason to panic at all because of the benefits that the Kuwaiti society is enjoying from the expatriates in the country. They work for benefitting themselves and for benefitting others. If they do not find a suitable job in Kuwait, there is no reason for them to stay here in Kuwait especially since the cost of living here is too high”.