Kuwait lays off 33% of expats at housing agency

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Some 135 expatriates or 33 percent of the total foreign workers at a Kuwaiti housing agency will have their contracts terminated by September as part of a plan to “Kuwaitise” employment there in one year, Kuwaiti newspaper Al Qabas has reported.

Minister of State for Housing Affairs and Minister of Public Works, Rana Al Faris, said in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by Al Qabas, that a three-phase plan to replace foreign employees with Kuwaitis at the Public Authority for Housing Welfare will take one year, with each phase to see the termination of the services of 33 percent of the agency’s total foreign labour of 398 employees. The replacement plan exempts foreign employees whose mothers are Kuwaitis and stateless staff.

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The minister ordered a halt to hiring non-Kuwaitis, the report said. She also called for non-renewal of foreign employees at the authority and working out a plan to train nationals to replace them.In recent weeks, several Kuwaiti public figures have demanded curtailing numbers of expatriates, mainly the unskilled labour, in the country, accusing them of straining the country’s health facilities and increasing the COVID-19 threat.

Foreigners account for nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s 4.8 million population.

Kuwaiti Prime Minister Shaikh Sabah Al Khalid said this month that expatriates in the country should be reduced by 70 percent of their total population to redress the demographic imbalance in the country. Campaigns to replace migrant workers in Kuwait have recently gathered momentum as the economy feels the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis.

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