Kuwait residents mask
Mask-clad residents walk in a neighbourhood of Kuwait City on May 12, 2020, as authorities allowed people to exercise for two hours under a nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: A number of Kuwaiti lawmakers have presented a draft bill proposing a quota system for employing foreigners as one way to redress the demographic imbalance in the country.

Foreign workers make up 3.3 million of Kuwait’s 4.6 million population.

According to the proposed quota system, the number of Indian workers should not exceed 15 per cent of the overall Kuwaiti population while those of Egyptian expatriates should stand at a maximum 10 per cent, Al Rai newspaper reported Thursday. Indians and Egyptians make up the largest foreign communities in Kuwait. The draft envisages deporting 844,000 Indians and 500,000 Egyptians, the paper said.

The authors of the draft said that the demographic imbalance in Kuwait has spawned problems in recent years, becoming more conspicuous and serious since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Most illegal workers have been found to be residing in densely populated places lacking in health rules, thereby helping spread COVID-19 in Kuwait, according to the report.

Noting that the numbers of some foreign communities are nearing those of Kuwaitis, the lawmakers said their draft law sets the maximum limits for each community versus the Kuwaiti population and bans bringing any individual from such communities into Kuwait if their numbers have exceeded their designated quotas.

The authors have attached to their draft a proposed table determining the percentage of each nationality compared to the Kuwaiti population and commits the government to take the necessary measures to curtail the numbers of foreigners in Kuwait without infringing the government’s authority to ban employment of a certain nationality even if its numbers do not surpass the proposed quota, the paper said.

The draft also bans the government bodies from approving the transfer of visit visas to residency permits for work or renewing the residency permit of an expatriate recruited under a temporary contract after the end of the respective governmental project.

According to the draft, public workers are liable to maximum 10 years in jail and a fine of up to 100,000 dinars or any of the two penalties if they order or approve the recruitment of a worker whose nationality has exceeded the proposed recruitment quota.

In recent weeks, several Kuwaiti public figures have accused expatriates of straining the country’s health facilities and increasing the COVID-19 threat.

Last month, the Kuwaiti government unveiled a pardon plan for illegal migrants in the country to encourage them to leave the country.

The pardon offers the illegal expatriates exemptions from legal punishment and free home return flights.