Nearly half of Kuwait’s public sector employees are set to receive double-figure salary increases worth a total $1.15 billion, under a government proposal.
An average pay rise of 18 percent is expected to be handed out to 45 percent of the public sector workforce – which employs more than 90 percent of Kuwaiti workers in the country – who are considered to be currently paid too low, Arab Times said.
The proposal, being considered by the National Assembly, would standardise salaries across the board and include automatic annual inflation adjustments in what the government says will reduce unfair or undeserved pay rises.
Such inflated salaries are often given according to an employee’s wasta – or contacts – rather than ability.
Defense personnel, national guards, police officers and firefighters would be excluded from the standardised pay system, according to a report by the National Bank of Kuwait.
Those whose current salaries are above the standardised rate for their level would not have a pay cut but their pay would be frozen until it reaches the standardised level.
The new system is expected to cost the government $1.15 billion in the first year but eventually save $53 billion over 10 years.
By the tenth year of implementation, the public sector wage bill is projected to have decreased by 20 percent.
Kuwait has long had a bloated and unproductive public sector, with some economists suggesting staff numbers could be cut in half. Arabian Business