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Kuwait’s Parliamentary Legislative committee approves quota bill for migrant workers

On July 9, 2020

Kuwait’s Parliamentary Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee has approved a draft law proposal which would set a foreign residence quota for every nationality. 

According to local media reports, no nationality can exceed a third of Kuwaiti population. Specific quotes seem to have been established for some nationalities already: Indian nationals cannot exceed 15%  while Egyptian, Filipino and Sri Lankan nationals not more than 10%.

The approval does not mean that the bill will go into force; it will now be referred to Kuwait’s Human Resources Development Committee, which will study the proposal before referring it to the National Assembly for a vote. 

Proposals on nationality quotas and mass deportation of migrants are part of a regular discourse in Kuwait that has existed ever since the influx of migrant workers to Kuwait following the discovery of oil. Such proposals and discussions generally resurface during general election years or during a crisis, such as the Iraqi invasion in the 1990s.

The quota bill follows a statement made by Kuwait’s Prime Minister last month to reduce the migrant population from 70% to 30% to “resolve the demographic imbalance” of Kuwait. 

The proposal could mean the deportation of hundreds of thousands of migrants but is unlikely to go into effect given that it would cause significant disruption to Kuwait’s economy, which is already severely affected by both the pandemic and oil price crash. The proposal to set nationality quotas and reduce the migrant population from 70% to 30% has already attracted pushback from real estate and business owners.