Kuwait MPs demand debate on expat population in Feb

Lawmaker Abdul Karim Al Kandari submitted a proposal to discuss the issue earlier this week



Kuwait’s expat population continued to dominate politics in the country yesterday as MPs demanded a special debate on the subject be held on February 2.

Earlier this week, lawmaker Abdul Karim Al Kandari submitted a proposal to discuss the issue and collected signatures from other MPs.

Kuwait Times reports that MPs Abdulkarim Al-Kandari, Riyadh Al-Adasani, Mohammad Al-Dallal, Waleed Al-Tabtabaei and Abdulwahab Al-Babtain signed the proposal and now want to push ahead with the debate on the government’s failing to limit expat numbers.

An estimated 70 per cent of Kuwait’s 4.4 million population is foreign with MPs complaining of being a minority in their own country.

The lawmakers want to debate the pressure expats are putting on public infrastructure and the amount of money leaving the country in remittances from foreign workers.

MP Safaa Al-Hashem, who earlier this week called for expats to pay taxes for using roads, reiterated the call yesterday saying the country no longer needed expats, according to the publication.

The discussion also attracted criticism from Kuwaiti activists who said the country’s large expat population was to blame on citizens.

Economist Abdulmajeed Al-Shatti said in an article for Al-Jarida newspaper that it was not possible to deport a large number of expats at once and the process would need to be gradual over two decades or more.

Earlier this month, MPS called for the deportation of one million expats over the next five to 10 years to balance the country’s population.

Read: Kuwait MPs call for deportation of one million expats

The comments came following a Kuwait Times interview with minister of social affairs and labour and state minister for economic affairs Hind Al-Subaih in which she suggested the government was considering quotas, family visa limits and other means to limit expat numbers.

Read: Kuwait eyes nationality quotas, family visa limits to reduce expat population

The country’s expat population has been the target of several recent austerity measures.

New water and electricity fee increases coming into effect later this year will affects expats and not Kuwaiti citizens.

Taxes on remittances and a ban on expats in public sector roles are among the other measures reportedly being considered.

Read: Kuwait plans tax on expat remittances, privatisations and subsidy reforms

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