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‘Time not right to put curbs on expats’ stay in country’ Kuwaitis prefer govt jobs; productivity low

Rejecting a proposal to limit expats’ stay in the country for five years, the Secretary General of the Government Manpower and Restructuring Program (GMRP) explains that the proposal is “hasty and unrealistic.” He explains further that “the current situation of Kuwait is such that it cannot manage without foreign workforce or limit the period of their employment in the Kuwaiti labor market.” Moreover, according to the GMRP’s Secretary General “the current problem in the labor market structure is that the national manpower prefers to work in the government sector and not the private sector”(see Arab Times, Feb 7, 2014).

I do not think it is illogical to presume that there is an actual productivity crisis in our Kuwaiti culture. In addition to the apparent tendency among many Kuwaiti nationals to work in administrative jobs in the government, the private sector has become the last chosen place for some. In other words, because working in the private sector seems to require more commitment, more hard work, gearing up to the competitive nature of the private sector, few individuals would prefer to work in such a demanding workplace! Indeed, there is a productivity crisis in Kuwait revolving around lack of productive behavior among some nationals. In order to achieve full Kuwaitization we need first to solve one of our chronic dilemmas: the continuity of the welfare state. In Kuwait, a citizen is guaranteed a job, free education, and full health coverage.... etc.

However, what seems to be unguaranteed is whether we as Kuwaitis can continue to live in prosperity in a changing world and in an international global market. Of course, we can maintain some kind of a welfare state; however some sacrifices needs to be made. One of the most thorny issues some in Kuwait tend to avoid talking about is the lack of productivity culture in our society. Unless, serious efforts are made by the government, civil societies or any other concerned party; we will witness shortly a serious lack of productivity and the continuation of full reliance on an expatriate workforce.

Moreover, a government, which pays 100 % of its Kuwaiti employees’ salaries needs to face reality. A government that does not impose basic taxes on its citizens will not develop the public work place into a more productive environment. Such kind of government is a government that does not actually realize its current or future challenges. It is easy to blame expats for the deterioration of our infrastructures; however it seems more difficult to acknowledge the deterioration of productivity among many of our citizens.

A government that postpones solving fundamental problems in its national workplace is a government which is heading for economic and cultural disasters. Establishing work ethics or productivity in any society begins and ends in the educational system: to this day, we lack the necessary emphasis in our national education curriculums on technical education. So how could a government which is supposed to seek Kuwaitization achieve such a project while it does not emphasize productivity in the national workplace?

By: Khaled Aljenfawi

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