Manama: Kuwait is looking at imposing a new cap on hiring foreigners based on their age, as part of a massive official drive to address the demographic imbalance in the country and reform the labour market. Kuwaiti nationals represent only 30 per cent of the total population.
Under the new proposal, the age limit for recruiting foreigners will be reduced from 65 to 60 and no contract for any expatriate who turns 60 will be renewed.
Only a limited number of positions that require particularly high skills would be exempted from the new rule, Kuwaiti daily Al Seyassah reported on Tuesday, citing “well-informed” sources.
“It makes no sense to hire a worker or a driver who is over 60. The proposal aims to enhance the quality of the workers, ensure greater ability to perform jobs and reduce the number of foreigners in the 60-plus category, as the country addresses the demographic imbalance,” the sources said.
The proposal is likely to be resisted by the business community, which has staunchly opposed such moves so far, on the grounds that it would upset market forces and eliminate the “critical experience factor.”
Other measures being considered by the interior, social affairs, labour and trade ministries include confining family visit visas to spouses and children and limiting them to one month without the possibility of renewing them.
Currently, family visit visas cover expatriates’ relatives, including their parents, and can be extended.
The Ministry of Interior is also considering reducing the number of work permits to members of some large communities, and to limit them to government contracts and technical specialities.
Hiking recruitment fees and health insurances and requiring expatriates to undergo medical check-ups before entering Kuwait are other options being considered, the sources added.
Kuwait this week said it cancelled the contracts of 3,140 foreigners working in the public sector. Ahmad Al Jassar, Chairman of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), said the move was based on a CSC resolution on staff proportions for 2017-2018, as part of the state policy to replace expatriates with Kuwaitis in the government sector.
The dismissed foreigners served in various ministries, government departments and bodies with independent budgets.
According to the Public Authority for Civil Information, the 3,205,385 foreigners living in the northern Arabian Gulf state make up 69.73 per cent of the total population. Kuwaitis, numbering 1,391,297, make up the remaining 30.27 per cent.
Several lawmakers have been aggressively pushing for far-reaching reforms that would seriously address the demographic imbalance, reduce reliance on expatriates and boost employment opportunities for locals.