Kuwait to cut expat numbers

Pedro Gonçalves
Kuwait to cut expat numbers

Kuwait's parliament has unanimously passed a law giving the government one year to slash its expatriate population, a move that could see hundreds of thousands of foreign residents forced to leave the country, Bloomberg reported.

The new legislation was passed after introducing amendments such as abolishing the previously proposed quota system for expat nationalities, after the government objected to the system.

The law requires the government to create mechanisms to cut the number of foreigners within the next 12 months, according to local media.

The law's main objective is to rebalance the country's population structure.E xpatriates in Kuwait, brought in to the Gulf nation over the past few decades for both skilled and unskilled labour, account for roughly 3.4 million of the country's 4.8 million people.

Prime minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah said in June that the Gulf state would like expat numbers to reduce to 30% of the country's population. In total, as many as 2.5 million people would need to leave the country.

Kuwaiti MPs have already called to replace all expat jobs in the government within one year.

In June, the country announced that it will ban the employment of expatriates in state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and its subsidiaries for the year 2020-21.

In July, Kuwait's National Assembly passed a law that Indians should not exceed 15% of the population. It was said to go into effect this month, weeks before parliamentary elections that are slated for November.

Meanwhile, Egyptians, Filipinos, and Sri Lankans must not account for more than 10% each; and Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Nepalis and Vietnamese must not cross five percent each.

The law also imposes a limit on the number of expats a business can recruit each year, with regulations based on their specialisations.

Kuwait's Municipality also said in May that it would soon dismiss all expat employees and replace them with Kuwaitis.

The decision also called for freezing employment applications from expats, cancelling appointments under process and not renewing the contracts of existing employees.

Around 13,000 expatriates have been deported from Kuwait in the past 10 months.


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