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New law likely to cut Bangladeshi jobs in Kuwait

Thousands of workers from Bangladesh and India are likely to lose their jobs in Kuwait as the country would enact a comprehensive law seeking a gradual reduction of un-skilled foreign workers as part of the government’s move to attract skilled manpower from abroad.   

Kuwait assembly speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said that a comprehensive draft law would be submitted in two weeks calling for a gradual reduction of unskilled foreign workers, according to the Kuwait Times.

‘Kuwait has a real problem in its population structure, in which 70 percent are foreigners,’ he said, adding that what was more serious was that 1.3 million of the 3.35 million foreigners ‘are either illiterate or can merely read and write…not the people Kuwait really needs’.

The speaker said that the draft law they intended to place would propose to impose a cap on the number of foreigners, whose numbers must decrease gradually, adding that this year expats would be 70 percent, next year 65 percent and so on.

The draft law also proposes to determine the number of foreign workers that can be recruited every year, including their specialisation and other details, he said.

Ghanem said that the assembly was determined to complete the population structure legislation before the end of the term of this assembly in October.

He said that Kuwait was supposed to recruit skilled workers from abroad, but visa traders had contributed in increasing unskilled foreign workers by distorting the recruitment process.

Describing the visa trading as ‘brutal’, he said that it was used for trafficking in persons and must be countered.

Kuwait interior minister Anas Al-Saleh said that the government had a complete draft law proposing to ‘upgrade the residency law’, which would be sent to the assembly within the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, the legal and legislative committee of the Kuwait assembly cleared another draft law on Thursday to assign specific percentages for various foreign communities in the country.

Kuwait MP Khalil Al-Saleh, head of the Kuwait assembly’s manpower resources development committee, said that the panel would start this week looking into a number of draft laws on the population structure.

Thousands of Bangladesh workers are likely to be adversely affected by the two laws with losing jobs, migration experts said. About 3.5 lakh Bangladesh people are now working in Kuwait. 

Bangladesh ambassador to Kuwait Abul Kalam, however, claimed that Bangladesh workers were unlikely to become victims of Kuwaitisation policy.

Bangladesh in the past had sent doctors, engineers and polytechnic diploma holders to Kuwait but most of them have left the place, he told New Age on Monday, with stressing the need to restart sending skilled workers.

Some eight lakh Indians can also be forced to leave Kuwait if the draft quota bill seeking to reduce the number of foreign workers becomes law, according to The Hindu.

According to the bill, Indians should not exceed 15 per cent of Kuwait’s population. This can result in 8,00,000 Indians leaving Kuwait, as the Indians constitute the largest expat community in the country, totalling 1.45 million, the Gulf News reported, citing a Kuwaiti newspaper.

The Kuwait authorities have also launched an interrogation of 526 people, including 49 Kuwaitis, on allegations of visa trading under 282 cases lodged over the matter.

Anas Al-Saleh said that the interior ministry provided all information to the prosecution regarding the case of the Bangladeshi MP Mohammad Shahid Islam, who has been detained in Kuwait since June 7, over a suspected corruption scandal involving high-profile local people like MPs, senior officials and others.

‘The file of visa traders must vanish and we will eradicate it from Kuwait,’ Al-Saleh said.

Kuwait attorney general Mohammad Al-Duaij said that as many as 157 suspects in human trafficking cases were tried between 2015 and end of 2019, and 84 of them were handed harsh sentences ranging from 15 years in jail to life in prison.

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