THE objective behind this article is to advise our government and its officials who came up with “creative” chronic decisions that uncovered the level of shallow thinking of some of them.
One of the examples of such thinking is the decision to lift the total lockdown in Kuwait coupled with decisions that are utterly off-beat and irrational. These decisions will harm Kuwait and those living on its land, and result in a loss much higher than the losses inflicted by COVID-19.
The reason behind such decisions is the lack of experience of some of our ministers, especially those in charge of our money and economy.
This issue was highlighted on the front page of Al-Qabas newspaper on May 31. An excerpt from the report was “… at the same time, we blame the ministerial decision taken by those in charge of our economy affairs in the government’s team. Four months of COVID-19 crisis in the country revealed the level of weakness of our ministers economically, and the fragility and short-sightedness of their decision…” This explains the dominance of the medical decision over the economic decision.
I will now talk about the demographic issue that many have been talking about in a bid to shed light on some of its aspects that appear in a manner that our ministers are failing to comprehend.
Certainly, this deduction about our ministers is not far fetched. COVID-19 managed to uncover the shallow thinking of some of them, as described in the aforementioned excerpt from Al-Qabas newspaper.
The talk about demographic restructuring and the efforts to achieve it have intensified lately in many of the news and opinion articles. While some of them managed to hit the point in their analysis about the issue, many appear to be populist discourse that tickles the emotions of the electorate, and are far from being scientific and professional discourse.
There are those who suggested demographic restructuring on the basis of the quota system for each nationality in Kuwait, but this idea missed the core fact that the employment sector in this country is divided into two, namely the government sector and the private sector.
As for the government sector, it has been taking steady steps towards replacing expatriate manpower with citizens. So far, it has taken significant steps, although further steps are needed in this regard.
The issue is in the private sector. We note that the COVID-19 crisis exposed the human traffickers (visa traders) as if this issue came as a surprise and was unknown. The fact remains that this problem was well-known, but there was a lack of seriousness in remedying it.
Every cloud has a silver lining, and in this case, the COVID-19 crisis has put this issue of visa traders on fire, and we are now eager to see how it cooks out.
Back to the private sector, the citizens in this sector constitute around four percent of the total labor force, which is the lowest in the world. Most of the workers in this sector are workers of medium level and low level technical skills such as auto mechanics, air conditioning maintenance, factory workers, electricians, people working in scrapyards, construction and other types of work that are considered as menial jobs.
Majority of the citizens will not accept working in such jobs due to the fact that the income is low, let alone the fact that such jobs need commitment, a lot of energy and long working hours compared to working in the government sector.
Therefore, when we address the demographic issue, we must take these aspects into consideration in our decisions so that we maintain balance in businesses, and service and maintenance sectors, because any imbalance in these sectors could lead to a greater defect.
Maintaining such a balance in the private sector will enable the economy to address for example the malfunctioned air-conditioning system in a shopping complex or hospital or vital facility by providing necessary technical labor force to fix it.
All that we are saying here is – The decision-makers should be keen about the doves’ wings so that they can fly.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli – Former Minister of Oil