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Approval of foreign workers’ quota bill may cut 2.5million workers

06 July 2020

Kuwait National Assembly Committee has approved the draft law by proposing a quota for several foreign workers living in the country, which is likely to change the country’s demographic ratio in favour of Kuwaitis.

The bill stipulates that the Indian expatriate Community, which is one of the largest in the country should not exceed 15 percent of the national population, which implies that about 800,000 of them may have to leave the country.

The Kuwaiti Prime Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Sabah, last month said that the country aims to reduce the number of foreign workers from the present 70 percent of population to 30 percent. This would lead to a cut of 2.5 million workers.

Foreigners constitute nearly 3.4 million of the total 4.8 million population in Kuwait, and that is a huge ‘imbalance’, and the future challenge lies in redressing this imbalance, Sheikh Sabah told the media.

Now, the bill will be submitted to the concerned committee for consideration.

Last month, the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and subsidiaries said that employment of foreign nationals will be banned for the year 2020-21. Similar plans are in place for government and civil service jobs.

Meanwhile, MP Safa Al Hashem, last year emphasized that it is necessary to have a national population constituting more than 50 percent of the total population in the country.

With the Parliamentary elections due this year, the anti-foreign worker rhetoric seems attractive to a section of voters, particularly, in well-paid government jobs.

Towards the end of last year, only 19 percent of the national workforce were employed in private sector.

Foreigners have accounted for majority of the coronavirus cases in Kuwait, and as the disease spread is rampant among migrant workers living in labour camps.

Robin Vinod

Writer/blogger who writes on topics such as travel, real estate, employment and everyday life on GCC countries.