Expat Quota Law Means Eight Lakh Indians May Have to Leave Kuwait

Kuwait National Assembly committee cleared a law saying Indian workers can only make up 15 percent of population.

2 min read
File image of Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

Around eight lakh Indians in Kuwait may be forced to leave the country, after a government committee okayed a bill to put a quota on the number of expat workers in the country, according to a report by the Press Trust of India.

PTI reports that the Kuwait National Assembly’s legal and legislative committee found that the draft expat quota bill, with which the government had intended to reduce the number of foreign workers in the country, was constitutional.

Over 33 lakh foreign workers in Kuwait amount to around 70 percent of its population. The Prime Minister of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, had proposed in June that this needs to be reduced to 30 percent, and the draft law seeks to do this in a gradual manner.

The Kuwait Times reported the Speaker of the National Assembly as saying that 13 lakh of these expats “are either illiterate or can merely read and write” and, therefore, were not needed by the country.

According to PTI, the draft expat quota bill states that workers from India should not exceed 15 percent of the total population. Currently, there are around 14.5 lakh Indians in Kuwait, making them the largest expat community in the country, as per Kuwaiti news media.

These include 28,000 Indians working for the Kuwaiti government, several lakh persons working in the private sector (with 1.16 lakh dependents), many of them migrant workers, and 60,000 students studying in the 23 Indian schools in the country, on the basis of information provided by the Indian embassy in Kuwait.

Bringing this number down to 15 percent of the total population means 8 lakh Indians will have to leave.

The PTI report notes that there has been an increase in anti-immigrant rhetoric in the current situation, amid a slump in oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic – foreigners allegedly accounted for the majority of COVID-19 cases, thanks to overcrowded housing conditions.

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