Lawmakers are said to be contemplating the introduction of a new bill in the upcoming October session of Parliament, which will seek to limit the number of expatriates from each community to less than 30 percent of the Kuwaiti population.
Latest statistics from the Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) show that of the total population of 4.6 million people in the country, 3.2 million are expatriates and only 1.4 million are Kuwaitis.
Some lawmakers have long argued that the presence of large expatriate communities are a threat to the security and integrity of Kuwait. But it was not exactly clear how the introduction of a quota system would help adjust the demographic imbalance in the country, where currently less than a third of the population is made up of Kuwaitis.
Under the proposed new law, the more than 900,000-strong Indian community, and the over 600,000 Egyptians in Kuwait would find their numbers reduced to less than 400,000, while the estimated 200,000 Bangladeshis and 140,000 Syrians, who form the next two largest expatriate communities in Kuwait, could potentially see their numbers increase.
It had also been reported earlier that the authorities planned to reduce the number of foreign residents in the country by at least 1.5 million over the next seven years. This is no doubt a well-intentioned and forthright plan, but the government has been less than forthcoming in explaining, how it hoped to overcome the market slump that such a move would definitely entail.
Various market sectors, such as retail and rental, as well as labor, would be severely impacted from a drastic fall in population.
Decision on setting a quota for expatriate communities and issuing visas is the prerogative of the government and the executive. By introducing the new bill, parliamentarians hope to infringe on that authority, and usurp it under the guise of saving the government from embarrassment. Lawmakers argue that the government’s involvement in setting such a quota system, would unnecessarily get Kuwait embroiled in accusations from human rights organizations of engaging in racial profiling of foreigners.