A bit harsh? New proposal wants to cap how long expats can reside in Kuwait
Kuwait is home to 2.8 million foreigners, with Asian labourers making up more than two-thirds of the population (File/AFP)
No foreigner in unskilled and semi-skilled occupations should be allowed to stay in Kuwait when he reaches the age of 50, a lawmaker has said.
However, those who have skilled jobs, such as doctors, advisers and university professors, should be able to stay until they are 70, MP Abdullah Al Tamimi said.
The suggestions are part of a draft law the lawmaker is presenting to parliament to address what he called demographic imbalances and the presence of a massive marginalised labour force in the country.
Kuwait is home to around 2.8 million foreigners, mainly unskilled Asian labourers in the construction sector and domestic helpers, who make up more than two-thirds of the total population.
Under Al Tamimi’s proposal, a residency cap should be imposed on all expatriates working in the country.
The residency should have a maximum of ten years that can be renewed only once, according to the strict conditions. The conditions means that no foreigner can stay in Kuwait for more than 20 years, Al Tamimi said in remarks published by local daily Al Seyassah on Tuesday.
Al Tamimi who had earlier submitted a similar draft law to control the growth of demographic tendencies in the country said he expected parliament to accept his proposal.
He said that his first draft had been rejected ostensibly for including very strict conditions, and added that the new proposal was more flexible.
The lawmaker said that no expatriate community should be allowed to exceed 15 per cent of the Kuwaiti population, currently standing at 1.2 million.
The proposal would affect the Indian community, the largest in the country, with around 700,000 people, the Egyptian community made up of 500,000 people and Bangladeshi nationals, believed to be slightly more than 200,000.
Cost of living
“I call upon the legislative committee in the parliament and on all competent authorities in the interior and defence ministries to study the proposal and refer it to the parliament for voting,” Al Tamimi said. “Kuwait is suffering from the existence of a large number of expatriates who come to make money here, but are at times subject to exploitation. There is also the security and social issue as well as a high rise in the cost of living as there are so many people in the country,” he said.
Kuwaiti officials have been pushing for an overhaul of the residency system to limit the number of foreigners.
In June last year, the social affairs and labour minister said that Kuwait had every right to safeguard its demographic composition.
“It is our right as a state to address the demographic imbalance due to the presence of a marginalised labour force and to preserve the country’s demographic composition,” Dhikra Al Rashidi, who had a plan to cut the foreign presence in the country by 100,000 a year for ten years, said.
By Habib Toumi
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