Kuwait (Image: Snap/Flickr)
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that it is “closely monitoring” the status of Kuwait’s draft residency bill, which is aimed at expelling a bulk of foreigners from the country.
MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that both countries’ foreign ministers had discussed the matter in a recent telephone conversation, Mint reported.
“We share excellent bilateral ties which are deeply rooted in people to people linkages. The Indian community in Kuwait is well-regarded in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Gulf region and their contributions are well recognised. We have shared our expectations that Kuwait’s decision will take into account," he added.
Also Read | Kuwait’s expat quota bill a big blow to Kerala’s remittances
Kuwait government’s new anti-expatriate policy may displace up to eight lakh Indians. Notably, of the gulf country’s three-million-strong expat population, Indians constitute 1.45 million, around 800,000 of whom could reportedly be forced to leave.
The Kuwait National Assembly’s legal and legislative committee has approved a draft ‘Quota Bill’, which aims to expel a significant portion of the country’s expat population. Indians being the largest group are facing the biggest impact, and the bill states that no more than 15 percent Indians can be a part of the expat population.
The move is also in line with Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah’s statement in June, which proposed to reduce Kuwait’s expat population from 70 percent to 30 percent. Lawmakers and government officials have grown increasingly vocal against foreigners in the country after the coronavirus pandemic, the report added.
Also Read | 8 lakh Indians to leave Kuwait? Here's all you need to know about Kuwait's Residency Law
Another draft bill by the interior that proposes changes to “upgrade the residency law” will also be forwarded to the National Assembly, Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh was quoted as saying. The second draft law calls to “encourage” only those expats needed in the country and “benefit from neighbouring and advanced countries”.
Ghanem told the daily that “Kuwait has a real problem in its population structure” and 1.3 million of expats are “either illiterate or can merely read and write”.
Kuwait, along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Germany is the biggest destination for migrant workers. A bulk of such workers in Kuwait – at least 650,000 from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, are employed as domestic workers.
If the Kuwait dream starts turning sour for its expatriates, over 350,000 Keralites would be looking to return home for good and such a huge repatriation is certainly going to be a big dent in the remittances this year, with no significant changes in fortunes seen next year.
According to a recent World Bank advisory, the remittance economy on account of the pandemic-triggered economic meltdown will shrink from $554 billion in 2019 to $445 billion in 2020. For India, which continues to top the world remittance pool, the drop will be from $83 billion 2019 to $64 billion in 2020. Kerala’s share, which was $15.9 billion in 2019, seems set for a proportionate shrinkage, perhaps to about $12.25 billion.
As per the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Research Centre, Kuwait has recorded 54,058 COVID-19 cases as on July 12. Foreigners have incidentally accounted for a majority of these cases.