Kuwait says no intention of cutting subsidies for citizens in private sector

Despite government efforts, the majority of Kuwaitis still work in government roles



Kuwait has no intention of cutting subsidies for citizens in the private sector, minister of labour and social affairs Hind Al-Sabeeh said on Monday.

The minister’s denial came amid reports on Saturday that the country’s cabinet had amended conditions for national labour support allowances for non-government workers.

Under the amendments, the government will start payments for citizens from the date of the worker’s application at the Public Authority for Manpower instead of making retroactive payments starting from the trial period under the current system, Kuwait Times reported.

The decision also requires Kuwaitis with intermediate school degrees and lesser qualifications to enroll in courses for up to two years before applying for a job.

State news agency KUNA cited Al-Sabeeh as saying that regulation would be imposed to organise work and protect national employers’ interests.

Nearly nine in 10 Kuwaitis work in the public sector, according to a 2015 labour force survey, due to the shorter working hours, often less demanding work, more public holidays and other perks.

Read: Kuwaiti ministry to give desk-based employees ‘screen allowance’

This year the government has moved to create more jobs for nationals in a number of sectors including banking by limiting the number of roles that can be held by foreign nationals.

Read: Kuwait’s banks to cut 17,000 foreign workers

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah dissolved the country’s parliament in October 2016 after MPs clashed with the government over cuts to fuel subsidies.

Read: Kuwait ruler dissolves parliament

Those cuts, along with reduced incentives for government officials, have helped the country towards an annual surplus estimated at $600m based on a $60 oil price, according to recent reports.