Bangladesh should take immediate measures to cope with Kuwait's new foreign workers’ law

23 October 2020


KUWAIT'S parliament has approved a law to reduce the number of foreign workers in the country by one year, as part of efforts to 'rebalance' its population. The new legislation, which would force hundreds of thousands of expats to leave the Gulf state, was passed with an aim to provide more employment opportunities for Kuwaiti nationals as the coronavirus pandemic has shaken the petroleum-based economy.
Out of total 4.8 million people in Kuwait, foreign nationals currently account for roughly 3.4 million or 70 per cent and Kuwaiti nationals only make up 30 per cent, or 1.4 million, according to global media reports. In June, Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah said that the country would like to reduce expat numbers to 30 per cent of the country's population.
The new law requires the Kuwaiti government to create mechanisms to cut the number of foreigners within the next 12 months, reports Gulf Business citing the Kuwait Times. Last year, Bangladeshi migrant workers sent more than US$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.
Currently, around 3.5 lakh Bangladeshis are employed in different sectors of the oil-rich country. Due to the new law only about 1.5 lakh Bangladeshis will be allowed to stay there. The Kuwait government will take a decision about the fate of Bangladesh's expats within a couple of days, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah stated on October 6 to our FM, as per a Foreign Ministry press release.
A lot will depend on whether the new law is implemented strictly and whether Kuwait would give Bangladeshis any special favour. However we shouldn't rely on anyone country giving us special favours in a time of great economic uncertainty. Rather the government should try to arrange alternate employment for these expats by arranging for jobs in other economies. This will be a very difficult thing to do especially as we are in a global economic meltdown but they can also work in Bangladesh for the time being in certain capacities.
For the time being they could be given small loans to start new businesses or engage in other economic areas in our nation. It's certain that the world is entering a period of reduced economic growth but this should be overturned in 2021.


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