The “Economist Intelligence Unit of “The Economist” magazine dealt with the recent government announcement to replace expatriates with Kuwaitis in all municipal jobs.

The unit stated in a recent analysis that the Kuwait Municipality will have to start implementing the plan in early September and complete it by July 2023, while the analysis expected that Kuwait will speed up the resettlement process before the parliamentary elections to appease voters with populist tendencies, reports a local Arabic daily.

The Economist Intelligence indicated that the Kuwait Municipality will replace the expatriate workforce in all its jobs in 3 phases, each phase ending a third of the contracts with expatriates, adding that the first phase was implemented on September 1, while the second and third phases will be implemented in February and July of 2023 respectively.

The sources pointed out that the plan excludes children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis, citizens of the Gulf states, bedoun, service workers such as drivers, and 50 percent of workers in burial services, noting the decision issued by the Minister of State for Municipal Affairs Rana Al-Faris prohibits the reappointment or transfer of foreign workers between departments.

The unit stated that these steps indicate that despite the improvement in the general budget as a result of the rise in oil prices, the government will continue to implement Kuwaitization policies, but the analysis believes that the motives behind these steps are more political than economic, as the government seeks to allay criticisms regarding the demographics before the National Assembly election on September 29, which sees some candidates making populist promises.

The Economist Intelligence stated that the Kuwaitization plan in the municipality also aims to accommodate the steady growth in the number of citizens in public sector jobs by replacement instead of adding new jobs, which indicates the government’s endeavor to mitigate the risks of pressures on the budget in the long run.

However, the unit warned of the possibility of operational disruptions in the municipality because some of its jobs require skills that are not often available in the national workforce, despite the government’s plans to train and prepare national workers.

The government will continue to implement replacement policies as part of its endeavor to adjust the proportion of expatriates in the demographic structure (70:30), which it adopted in 2018, to become about 50 percent by 2025, which the Economist Intelligence considering an unattainable goal.

The unit believed that this would cause labor shortages and disruptions in project delivery, as well as act as a deterrent for white-collar immigrants, and thus lead to the transfer of foreign workers to other countries in the region.

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