THE reason behind the demographic imbalance in the country is the failure of the government in confronting this issue. We will not deny the efforts being exerted by Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and State Minister for Economic Affairs Hind Al-Sabeeh, who had suggested a number of solutions to solve this problem.
The issue is linked to the entire government, not just a specific minister. In fact, Al-Sabeeh believes any real change in the demographic structure will have negative consequences on the real-estate owners and traders. Nevertheless, this matter necessitates the need for modifying lifestyle and changing the terms of tenders. This will save millions of dinars for the state, and contribute to solving the problem of demographic imbalance in Kuwait.
For example, we have at least 2,000 expatriates working in the valet parking service. Such a service can be carried out by the Bedoun residents among us. This can be achieved in coordination with Ministry of Interior.
Also, any time we go to the airport, we find tens of laborers who are willing to offer porter service. There are more laborers than required but this number can be reduced by half through the provision of modern automatic trolleys, as seen in many advanced countries.
We notice that citizens and residents tend to be dependant when they are at Kuwait International Airport but the instant they reach the airports of other countries, they become independent.
We have also seen the contracts of cleaning laborers being extended to include other jobs and services. This is particularly evident in many state bodies especially hospitals and expatriates’ medical examination centers where just 1KD turns a Bangladeshi office boy into a facilitator of transactions who completes all procedures within few minutes.
In the same context, Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs took a decision that can aggravate the demographic imbalance issue. He decided to offer KD 300 as bonus to Kuwaiti imams and muezzins in order to encourage Kuwaiti citizens to take up these jobs. He also reduced their work time from 150 prayers to 85 prayers. This means they will attend for just half of the month while the rest of the month, they will be free, and the job will instead be carried out by expatriate imams and muezzins. This will increase the load on the public budget and further aggravate the demographic problem.
I am unable to understand what the minister was thinking when he took that decision. How can you convince someone to do the job of a muezzin or imam by increasing his benefits and reducing his work days?
We have only two ways in front of us – either leave everything as it is so that citizens eventually constitute just 10 percent of the total population of Kuwait, or work hard to change the demographic structure by implementing all the suggestions presented by Al-Sabeeh or at least some of them.
By Ahmed Al-Sarraf