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Expat Quota Bill Approved in Kuwait

  • 07 Jul 2020
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, the legal and legislative committee of Kuwait’s National Assembly has approved the draft expat (expatriate) quota bill.

  • According to the bill, Indians should not exceed 15% of the population and if it is enacted into law, over 8 lakh Indians could be forced out of Kuwait.
  • Kuwait is a country located in the Persian Gulf region.

Key Points

  • The draft expat quota bill has been deemed constitutional and will be transferred to the respective committee so that a comprehensive plan is created.
  • Lawmakers and government officials including the Prime Minister of Kuwait have been calling to reduce the number of expats from 70% to 30% of the population.
  • The draft law will impose a cap on the number of expats and gradually reduce them by almost 5% on a yearly basis.
    • For example, if expats constitute 70% of the population this year, next year it will 65% and 60% in the following year.
  • Reasons Behind the Move:
    • Anti-expat aspirations have been rising in Kuwait since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
      • Foreigners have accounted for the majority of Kuwait’s virus cases as the disease spread among migrant workers living in overcrowded housing.
    • Kuwait has been working to reduce its dependence on foreign workers. It no longer wants to remain an expat-majority nation with its own citizens turning into a minority.
    • Kuwait faces problems in its population structure due to huge numbers of expats.
      • Almost one-third of the expats are either illiterate or can merely read and write. They do not contribute to the country’s growth and hence, are not needed.
    • The oil-price crash has also affected the country's economic conditions.
  • Data Analysis:
    • In Kuwait, expats account for 3 million out of the total population of 4.3 million.
    • Indians constitute the largest expat community in Kuwait, totalling 1.45 million.
    • About 28,000 Indians work in various government jobs like nurses, engineers in national oil companies and as scientists.
    • Majority of Indians (around 5 lakh) work in the private sector.
    • There are about 1.16 lakh dependents out of which about 60,000 are students studying in various Indian schools in the country.

India’s Perspective

  • The Indian community in Kuwait has always played an important factor in bilateral ties.
  • Indians are present in all segments of society in Kuwait and are largely considered disciplined, hardworking and law-abiding.
  • Kuwait is a top source of remittances for India. In 2018, India received nearly USD 4.8 billion from Kuwait as remittances.
  • The Indian embassy has been closely following developments related to the proposed legislation. However, India has so far not made any statement on the issue.

Persian Gulf Region

  • The lands around the Persian Gulf are shared by eight countries namely, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • These all eight countries are members of the United Nations.
  • Being major producers of crude oil and natural gas, there is a commonality of interest among these countries.
    • This commonality of interest has given rise to their own prosperity and subsequently, economic-political entanglements among them.

Source: IE

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