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Kuwait approves Expat Quota Bill

2.5 lakh Bangladeshis might be forced to leave

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Noman Mosharef :
Some 2.5 lakh Bangladeshi migrant workers might be forced to leave Kuwait after parliament approved expatriates quota Bill seeking to gradually slash the number of foreign workers in the oil-rich Gulf country.
The draft law has proposed only 3 percent quota for Bangladeshi migrant workers.  
Kuwait's National Assembly's legal and legislative committee on Wednesday said a draft law calling to replace all expat employees in government jobs is in line with the Constitution and sent it to the concerned committee for further discussion. The bill is part of a series of draft laws proposed by MPs to reduce the number of expats in the country, who form 70 per cent of Kuwait's population of 4.8 million.
The move coincided with Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah's comments last week, in which he said his country should reduce the expat population to 30 per cent from the current estimated 70 per cent.
In the proposed law only three per cent quota will be reserved for Bangladeshi workers.
Kuwait Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said that a comprehensive draft law would be submitted in two weeks calling for a gradual reduction of unskilled foreign workers, according to the Kuwait Times.
'Kuwait has a real problem in its population structure, in which 70 per cent are foreigners,' he said, adding what was more serious that 1.3 million of the 3.35 million foreigners 'are either illiterate or can merely read and write…not the people of Kuwait really need'.
The Speaker said that the draft law they intended to place would propose to impose a cap on the number of foreigners, whose numbers must decrease gradually, adding that this year expats would be 70 per cent, next year 65 per cent and so on.
The draft law also proposes to determine the number of foreign workers that can be recruited every year, including their specialisation and other details, he said.
Ghanem said that the Assembly was determined to complete the population structure legislation before the end of the term of this Assembly in October.
He said that Kuwait was supposed to recruit skilled workers from abroad, but visa traders had contributed in increasing unskilled foreign workers by distorting the recruitment process.
Describing the visa trading as 'brutal', he said that it was used for trafficking in persons and must be countered.
Kuwait Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh said that the government had a complete draft law proposing to 'upgrade the residency law', which would be sent to the Assembly within the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, the legal and legislative committee of the Kuwait Assembly cleared another draft law on Thursday to assign specific percentages for various foreign communities in the country.
Kuwait MP Khalil Al-Saleh, Head of the Kuwait Assembly's manpower resources development committee, said that the panel would start this week looking into a number of draft laws on the population structure.
About 630,693 Bangladeshi migrant workers are now working in Kuwait.
Bangladesh ambassador to Kuwait S M Abul Kalam, however, claimed that Bangladeshi workers were unlikely to become victims of Kuwaitisation policy.
Bangladesh in the past had sent doctors, engineers and polytechnic diploma holders to Kuwait, but most of them have left the place, he said with stressing the need to restart sending skilled workers.
The expatriates in Kuwait feel fears about the law.
One of the expatriate workers Shah Karim said, the salary structure, work environment and payment are better in Kuwait.  My full family depends on my income. If now I come back from Kuwait, how my family will survive?
Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit's (RMMRU) Chairman Tasnim Siddique feels doubt over the Kuwait's new law and said he has confusion that, is it possible by Kuwait to force a large number of workers to leave the country?

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