A vendor introduces his fruits to a customer at the Al-Mubarakiya market in Kuwait City, Kuwait, Jan. 13, 2021. The Kuwaiti Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) implemented from Jan. 1 a decision banning the renewal of work and residency permits for expatriates who reach the age of 60 and hold certificates below high school. (Photo by Asad/Xinhua)
KUWAIT CITY, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Kuwaiti Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) implemented from Jan. 1 a decision banning the renewal of work and residency permits for expatriates who reach the age of 60 and hold certificates below high school.
Issued on Aug. 15, 2020, the decision was a part of the Kuwaiti government's efforts to redress the demographic imbalance of Kuwait.
According to official statistics of PAM, the decision includes expatriates who work in professional sectors such as construction, car repair and restaurants. They will leave after the expiry of their residency by the end of 2021.
Commenting on this, Aziz Al-Qenaei, a journalist, told Xinhua that this decision is to address the demographic crisis in Kuwait, after the number of expatriates increased compared to citizens.
The government needs now to create an appropriate atmosphere for citizens to accept practicing manual work, he pointed out.
"The lifestyle of Kuwaitis does not meet with the work that some expatriates do, such as simple manual work. Therefore, the government should begin to involve citizens more and encourage them if they want the replacement plan to succeed," he added.
Kuwait appreciates what foreign workers have offered to the country, Al- Qenaei noted, stressing that the time has come to employ Kuwaitis who are waiting in long lines to find a job after they graduate.
The decision was welcomed by Kuwaiti citizens.
Mubarak Al-Enzi, a 45-year-old Kuwaiti citizen, confirmed to Xinhua the need for Kuwait to renew its strategy and open job opportunities in the private and public sectors for Kuwaiti youth.
For her part, Khawla Al-Shammari, a 28-year-old employee at the Ministry of Education, explained the necessity of empowering citizens to work in such positions.
"We hope that the government will be able to quickly start to apply the decision. Kuwaiti youth have proven their ability to work in several fields and we must motivate them to work in various jobs," she said.
On the other hand, the Kuwait Federation of Restaurants, Cafes, and Catering considered that this decision restricts the private sector in organizing its work.
"Craft professions don't require certificates. It requires experience that received with age. The decision has negative repercussions on many economic activities," Muhammad Al-Saqr, president of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), said.
The new law which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2021 prohibits foreigners over the age of sixty from renewing their residency if they do not have university degrees.
Zahid Yaqoub, a 65-year-old Iranian, is preparing to return permanently on February to his hometown of Isfahan after 40 years that he spent selling vegetables and fruits at the famous Al-Mubarakiya market in the center of the capital of Kuwait.
Zahid, who married and has four children in Kuwait, told Xinhua while arranging oranges on his table to sell, that he came to Kuwait when he was 25 years old, and lived most of his life in this country.
Like Zahid, thousands of foreign workers without university degrees are planning to leave Kuwait in the coming months, where they represent 70 percent of Kuwait's population.
Lynn, a Filipino woman who works in a salon, has been living in Kuwait for 15 years. She has now less than a month to return to her country where her residency visa is to expire at the beginning of February.
Lynn has celebrated her 62nd birthday last November. She told Xinhua that she was exhausted after many years of work, during which she was forced to stay in Kuwait, due to her family's need for financial support, after her late husband left her with three children.
For years, there has been ongoing discussion regarding the demographic imbalance in Kuwait. Meanwhile, the coronavirus revealed another risk of this issue, when the disease spread among foreign workers, due to their lifestyle of living in crowded apartments.
This made the government announce its intention to remedy this imbalance and reduce the percentage of foreign workers to 30 percent of the country's population.
Hajjaj Bukhadour, a Kuwaiti economist who had worked as a consultant in several companies, said that addressing the imbalance of demographics needs to amend laws that contain loopholes that allow the accumulation of workers in the country.
The government allows companies to bring large numbers of workers, sometimes exceeding the need to work on one project, he stressed.
Last April, Kuwait launched a "Travel safe" initiative to encourage residency violators to leave the country without paying fines nor travel expenses.
According to the Public Relations Department at the Ministry of Interior, more than 26,225 violators have left Kuwait. Enditem