Kuwait’s Draft Bill on Foreign Workers

In the first week of July 2020, Kuwait proposed a draft Bill to reduce the number of foreign workers in Kuwait. The Legislative committee of its National assembly has deemed it constitutional to do so.

The draft Bill seeks to reduce the total number of foreign workers from the existing 70% to 30% of the total foreign population. The Bill proposes to reduce the total number of expat workers employed in Kuwait to based on their numbers and nationality.
For instance, India has the expatriate community in Kuwait – almost 15 lakhs. It proposes to restrict it to about 15% of total national population. This would mean the numbers will come down approximately to 7 lakhs. Egypt has the second largest expat presence in Kuwait. The gulf nation has proposed to limit the Egyptian expat community in Kuwait to about 10% of the total population.

When the Bill is enacted, India will directly bear the brunt.

  • Almost 7-8 lakhs Indian are at threat of being sent back.
  • Indians occupy positions in all sectors of the Kuwaiti economy and are major contributors to the growth of their economy.
  • This could directly have a bearing on bilateral relations of both nations as considerable goodwill is based on the Indian expat community in Kuwait.
  • The Indian government through its Embassy in Kuwait has initiated several welfare measures such as setting up a telephone helpline, providing free legal aid and protection to Indian nationals and the like.
  • Majority of remittances come to India from Kuwait. Indians in Kuwait remit approximately Rs. 35,000 crores in a year.

For long, Kuwait has been an expat majority nation. Kuwaiti citizens are a minority in their own nation. Hence the gulf nation has been wanting to reduce/ limit influx of foreign workers. The onset of the Covid19 pandemic across the world and the consequent slump in oil prices seems to have strengthened the anti expat sentiment in Kuwait. Government and Lawmakers in Kuwait are increasingly calling for laws to reduce / limit the expatriate presence in their Gulf nation. India is keenly watching Kuwait’s next move on this.

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