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.
The cabinet of the country will issue executive decisions regularly to implement the mechanisms and provide the assembly with annual reports on progress made.
The mechanisms will take into account the number of expats present in Kuwait, the country’s national development plan and its requirement of foreign workers, according to the law. Guidelines concerning the transfer of residency for expats and policies to replace them with Kuwaiti employees will also be issued.
In June, the country announced that it will 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.