Are we daydreaming? Can the Kuwaiti population rate be increased to 50 percent in seven years? According to last week’s local news, the government is planning to create a new committee for organizing and restructuring the population of Kuwait.
Its main objective is to increase the Kuwaiti population to 50 percent from the current 30 percent, and reduce the number of non-Kuwaitis by 20 percent from the current rate of 70 percent. Also, the community of any nationality should not exceed 20 percent of the total population.
All these seem like unachievable figures and objectives. The only time Kuwaitis constituted 50 percent of the population was back in 1957 during the first ever census that was officially documented. Since then, the expansion of Kuwait led to the decline in the rate of Kuwaiti population. Just few years ago, the rate was 32 percent. We don’t know what our government officials are thinking, as they are fully aware of the impossibility of such an intention especially since we are expanding in every sector.
The fact is Kuwait needs more workers from overseas in every field. We have more than two new hospitals which cannot be opened due to lack of staff and administration. Not only this, the increase in workforce is pushing us towards one direction, which is to hire expatriates, while the government is referring the Kuwaiti workforce to retirement after they complete 30 years of service. Some of these retirees are below the age of 50 years, irrespective of the fact that the life expectancy of men in our country is the highest in the Arab world at an average age of 83 years.
Now let us look at the core figures of the real workforce to illustrate the impossibility of the government’s objectives. The total workforce is around 2.6 million of which 80 percent are Kuwaitis and seven percent are non-Kuwaitis in the public sector and governmental companies and corporations. However, in the private sector, 15 percent of employees are Kuwaitis and 80 percent expatriates.
How are we going to eradicate this gap in the next 10 to 20 years?
How will the government succeed in increasing the Kuwaiti population to 50 percent within just seven years?
As if the private sector is not enough, 10,000 of the professionals and directors within the government sector are Kuwaitis while 51,000 are non-Kuwaitis. Such a wide gap will not be reduced with our plans to expand and build factories, petrochemical complexes, new airport, new universities, and new cities and roads. The other shocking news is that the number of employees is equal between Kuwaitis and non- Kuwaitis, as both are at 22,000.
Perhaps this is the 50 percent that the government is seeking. We in Kuwait are probably like the rest of the world in terms of vision, paperwork and even empty words, but we have neither credibility nor accountability.
By Kamel Al-Harami Independent Oil Analyst