Thousands of Bangladeshi migrant workers face risk of deportation22 October 2020
Noman Mosharef :
The Kuwait's parliament unanimously passed a law giving the government a year to set in motion plans to redress the lopsided ratio between foreign workers and local citizens.
As the impact of new law, thousands of Bangladesi migrant workers might be forced to leave the Gulf nation, according to manpower exporters.
Currently, around 3.5 lakh Bangladeshis are employed in different sectors of the oil-rich Gulf country. Majority of them are doing low-paid jobs, including driving, cleaning, construction and domestic work and domestic help.
Last year, Bangladeshi migrant workers sent more than $1.5 billion in remittance through authorised channels from Kuwait, which was the fourth highest in terms of remittance into Bangladesh, according to the website of Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training.
When asked, Benjir Ahmed, MP, President of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), said, right now it is not possible to say how many Bangladeshi expatriates would face deportation by this new law. "We will talk to our Kuwait Embassy regarding this issue."
He said, the law has just been enacted. So, we have to wait and see its development.
Manpower exporters said, low oil prices and the coronavirus lockdown have severely impacted Kuwait's economy, prompting demands that the government reduce the number of expatriates in the country and provide more jobs for Kuwaitis.
Expatriates, brought in over the decades to perform both specialized jobs and unskilled labor, account for nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait's 4.8 million people.
Within the next 12 months, the Kuwait government is to formulate procedures and mechanisms to cut the number of foreigners.
The new legislation was passed after introducing amendments such as abolishing the previously proposed quota system for expat nationalities, after the government objected to the system.
Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah said in June that expatriates should be more than halved to 30% of the population. The coronavirus pandemic and a slump in oil prices have put the economy under intense strain.
In June, the country announced that it would ban the employment of expatriates in state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and its subsidiaries for the year 2020-21.
Kuwait's Municipality also said in May that it would soon dismiss all expat employees and replace them with Kuwaitis.
The decision also called for freezing employment applications from expats, cancelling appointments under process and not renewing the contracts of existing employees.
In July, Kuwait's National Assembly passed a law that Indians should not exceed 15 per cent of the population. It was said to be effective from this month, weeks before Parliamentary elections that are slated for November.
Meanwhile, Egyptians, Filippinos, and Sri Lankans must not account for more than 10 per cent each; and Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Nepalis and Vietnamese must not cross five per cent each.
The law also imposes a limit on the number of expats a business house can recruit each year, with regulations based on their specialisations.
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused many expats to leave Gulf countries this year, including Saudi Arabia where as many as 1.2 million foreign workers could leave in 2020, according to a report from the Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment Company.