Kuwaiti MPs call for deportation of 1 million expats

Kuwaiti MPs have called for the deportation of one million expats across the next 5 to 10 years at a rate of at least 100,000 expats per year, due to what they call security, economic and social reasons.

The news comes as it was revealed that around 29,000 expats were deported from Kuwait in 2016, an increased rate of almost 80 expats daily, security sources have revealed. Among the reasons for deportation include simple traffic offence to more serious criminal violations, according to reports on Arabian business news website Arabian Business

The reports said that some deportees remain in prison for a month or two due to financial claims and obligations such as court hearings, sources told local news outlet Al-Qabas Daily.

They said the deportation prison management usually books flight tickets for deported expats from travel agencies at the prison.

They also revealed that 26% of deportees are Indians, 22% are Egyptians, 13% are Filipinos, 13% are Ethiopian, 6% are Sri Lankan and 5% are Bangladeshi.

“These six nationalities form 80 percent of the deportees”, the source said. “Unless the government is serious in solving the problem and reducing the number of marginal workers, the society will continue to suffer from imported crimes.”

MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei called for increasing the number of Kuwaiti citizens by over 50% the population while reducing the number of expats by 10% annually.

Similar moves

The move to reduce the number of expat workers is in line with other Middle Eastern nations. Similar moves are understood to be being considered in Qatar while in Saudi Arabia, new legislation has been introduced, as reported, that charges expats and their families and even some expat employers a monthly fee to remain in the country.

The Kuwaiti Times reported at the end of December that five Kuwaiti lawmakers submitted a draft law calling to cut the number of expatriates in Kuwait in order to reach a demographic balance within five years. The bill – signed by MPs Khalil Abul, Oudah Al-Oudah, Abdulwahab Al-Babtain, Omar Al-Tabtabaei and Ahmad Al-Fadhl, calls to establish a higher national committee for the demographic structure to be headed by the Kuwaiti interior minister.

The proposed committee will take the necessary measures to make Kuwaitis and expatriates equal in number. At present, out of a population of 4.4m people, Kuwaitis make up just 30 percent, or 1.33m. However, Kuwaiti MP Abul told the Kuwaiti Times that domestic helpers, currently totaling over 650,000, so-called contract workers who are recruited to work on specific large development projects and children of Kuwaiti women with non-Kuwaiti husbands would be exempt from the law.

Draft law

Also, the draft law stipulates that the size of any single foreign community should not exceed 30 percent of the total foreigners in the country. Based on a rough calculation by Kuwait Times, the number of Kuwaitis after five years is expected to reach 1.6 million, which means that expatriates have to be equal to them at 1.6m. Adding domestic helpers, contract workers and children of Kuwaiti women, the number of expatriates will be around 2.3m after five years.

This would mean that if new recruitment is totally suspended, which would be near impossible, as many as 800,000 expats will have to be cut. Applying the 3o% quota limitation, most of the cut will have to be made from Indians, who exceed 900,000 now, and Egyptians, who are close to 600,000 people.

If the law is approved by the National Assembly, accepted by the government and implemented as it is, it means that Indians and Egyptians cannot exceed 500,000 people, or 30 percent of the expected 1.6m expats. Such proposals are not new, as a similar bill was submitted in the previous Kuwait Assembly, but it was never debated or even discussed by the interior and defense committee.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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