Kuwait set to tackle expatriate numbers

Expatriates have a major dominance in Kuwait, holding most of the jobs and making up a large proportion of the population. The Parliamentary Committee in Kuwait have started to look at ways to tackle the growing number of expatriates in the country. 

The growing problem

3,150,115 expatriates live in Kuwait totalling around 69.7% of the local population. The biggest numbers come from India, with around one million expats, and Egypt with around 700,000. The government rarely grants citizenship to foreigners to try and maintain the balance with these numbers.

What are the government proposing?

A potential 15-year cap

The government are looking into different proposals in order to tackle this pressing issue. One of the propositions includes a 15-year cap on expatriates. This would mean that the number of expatriates entering the country would be closely monitored so that the numbers could potentially become more equal.

There has also been a suggestion that expatriates who don’t have jobs and are unable to secure employment should be asked to leave. This would ensure that only the expatriates who are economically benefiting Kuwait are allowed to stay.

Higher expatriate fees

In the past few months, a law was passed to implement higher fees for expatriate healthcare in Kuwait. Previously, it was possible to receive healthcare for an incredibly low price and this was a great advantage for expatriates coming to the gulf country. Now, some expatriates are considering moving home, where healthcare is inexpensive and in some cases even provided by the state.

There have also been suggestions of expatriates having to pay to use the roads and higher fees to own a car. If the government in Kuwait continue to make life difficult for expatriates, they could have a mass exodus on their hands.

The possible future of Kuwait

Expats hold many of the low-skilled domestic jobs which Kuwaiti citizens simply refuse to take on. What’s more, many of the higher-skilled jobs that are occupied by expatriates are unable to be filled by Kuwaitis because as of yet, they do not have the correct training or qualifications.

There has been an attempt at Kuwaitization over the past few years to help Kuwaiti citizens obtain jobs. However, this has been largely unsuccessful as most Kuwaiti’s do not want to do the jobs that are available.

A significant cut in the workforce would have a negative impact on the economy and with the recent drop in oil prices, Kuwait already has to focus on new sources of income to help support the loss of money in this area.

It is clear that the ratio of expatriate numbers to local numbers is something that needs to be tackled. However, the government in Kuwait must make sure they do so in a way that benefits the country, not hinders it.

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