Kuwait has proposed a new bill on 4th July to limit the number of foreign nationals in the country. The bill will be submitted to the Assembly in the next two weeks. According to the Kuwait Times, Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said that Kuwait’s main problem is its population structure. 70% of the total population are expats.
As per reports, Kuwait has around 3.35 million expats and a staggering 1.3 million are either illiterate or can barely read and write. Kuwait does not need them. He added that 100,000 of these people are workers who are illiterate.
The interior minister of Kuwait has said that visa trading is another problem the country is facing. It is a brutal practice and involves human trafficking that must be stopped. In the proposed bill, the number of Indians should be reduced to 15% of the total population. The legal and legislative committee of the National Assembly has said that the draft expat quota bill is constitutional. Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, Prime Minister of Kuwait had last month proposed to bring the number of expats to 30 percent of the population. The reduction is supposed to be done in phases.
Officials have stated that they constantly face complaints of visa trading and human trafficking.
Around 14 lakh Indians are reportedly living in Kuwait (For details click here: PDF). If the bill becomes a law, around eight lakh, Indians have to return home. The bill also calls for reducing the number of Egyptians in the country that makes to 10% of Kuwait’s total population. As per 2008 estimates, 80% of all Indians living in the Gulf are from Kerala. If Kuwait’s new law comes into force, it is expected that Keralites will be the most impacted.
A slump in oil prices among reasons of new proposed law
In 2018, India received close to $4.8 billion from Kuwait in remittances. At present, the citizens of Kuwait have turned into minority and the administration is trying to reverse it. Kuwait is largely dependent on the workforce from different countries. In the background of Covid-19, there has been a slump in the oil prices across the world that is believed to be one of the reasons for such a step.
The Indian embassy is closely following the developments and no official statement has been released by the Ministry of External affairs so far. India and Kuwait have pleasant diplomatic and trade relationships. There are more than a million expats from India living in Kuwait. Out of these, around 80 percent are from southern states of India, the majority being from Kerala. MEA has mentioned it multiple times in its statement that Indians are present in all segments of society in Kuwait and are largely considered disciplined, hardworking, and law-abiding.