8 lakh Indians could be forced to leave Kuwait
As many as 8 lakh Indians may have to leave Kuwait as its National Assembly's legal and legislative committee has green-lit a draft expat bill. According to the bill, the Indian population in Kuwait should not exceed 15% of the total population. Notably, Indians constitute the largest expat community in Kuwait, which has a population of 4.3 million. Here are more details.
According to Gulf News, the legal and legislative committee of Kuwait's National Assembly has said that the draft expat bill is constitutional. The bill will now be transferred to the respective committee so that a comprehensive plan is created. The bill comes as Kuwait has been planning to rectify its population imbalance, where 70% of the people are expats.
Out of the 4.3 million people in Kuwait, 3.35 million are expats while Kuwaitis make up only 1.3 million of the population. Among the expats, 1.45 million are Indians. With the bill, 8 lakh Indians could be forced to leave Kuwait.
Kuwait Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem recently said that the country's population structure has a real problem. Speaking to Kuwait TV, he said that a more serious problem is that out of the 3.35 million expats, 1.3 million "are either illiterate or can merely read and write." He said that illiterate expats are not what Kuwait really needs.
Last month, Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah had proposed reducing the number of expats from 70% to 30% of the population. A week later, the Kuwait Petroleum company announced its decision to stop hiring foreign workers. Further, MP Osama Al Chahin urged the Parliament to replace all expats working in the National Assembly with Kuwait nationals.
Citing the Indian embassy in Kuwait, PTI reported that there are about 28,000 Indians working for the Kuwaiti government in various jobs such as nurses, engineers in national oil companies, and scientists. A majority of 5.23 lakh Indians are employed in the private sector. Further, 1.16 lakh are dependents, including 60,000 students studying in the 23 Indian schools across Kuwait.
Kuwait is a top source of remittances for India. India received around $4.8 billion as remittances from Kuwait in 2018. Since the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a spike in anti-expat rhetoric. According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, Kuwait has reported 49,941 COVID-19 cases with 398 deaths. Reportedly, foreigners account for a majority of infections since migrant workers stay in overcrowded housing.