Dubai: Some 8 lakh Indians could be forced to leave Kuwait. A Kuwaiti parliamentary committee has approved a draft expat quota Bill which seeks to gradually slash the number of foreign workers in the Gulf country.
According to the bill, Indians should not exceed 15 per cent of Kuwait’s population. This could result in 800,000 Indians leaving, as they constitute the largest expat community in the country, totalling 1.45 million.
The current population of the Gulf nation is 4.3 million, with Kuwaitis making up 1.3 million of the population, and expats accounting for 3 million.
Amid a slump in oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a spike in anti-expat rhetoric with lawmakers and government officials calling for reducing the number of foreigners.
Last month, Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah proposed reducing the number of expats from 70 per cent to 30 per cent of the population.
Incidentally, the National Assembly's legal and legislative committee has determined that the expat quota bill is constitutional.
Kuwait’s real problem, the National Assembly’s Speaker has said is that 1.3 million of the 3.35 million expats "are either illiterate or can merely read and write;" these are the people Kuwait does not really need, it is pointed out.
The Speaker said the draft law proposes to impose a cap on the number of expats, whose numbers must decrease gradually; this year, the expats will be 70 per cent, the next year 65 per cent and so on.
According to the Indian embassy, there are about 28,000 Indians working for the Kuwaiti Government in various capacities such as nurses, engineers and a few as scientists.
The majority of Indians (5.23 Lakh) are employed in private sector. In addition, there are about 1.16 lakh dependents. Out of these, there are about 60,000 Indian students studying in 23 Indian schools in the country.
The bill will now be transferred to the respective committee, so that a comprehensive plan is created. It proposes similar quotas for other nationalities. Kuwait is a top source of remittances for India. In 2018, India received nearly USD 4.8 billion from Kuwait.