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‘Limiting expatriates stay to hurt Kuwait economy’

In this week’s online poll, the Arab Times quizzed voters on the topic of 5- year limitation on residencies. Recently, the parliament saw a proposal to this effect being tabled, drawing mixed reactions from lawmakers and the public. A majority of voters felt that a move limiting expatriates residence to just 5 years would hit the economy of Kuwait.

About 33 % of the voters felt so. Speaking to respondents, the Arab Times found that many expatriates and some Kuwaitis believed that the expatriate population in Kuwait helped the local economy in a big way. “Just consider the telecom business in Kuwait. The service providers have millions of customers and generate huge revenues. And going by the demographics, it’s not hard to figure out that a big bulk of their customers is expatriates.” Others alluded to the rising rents of residential units in Kuwait. “The rents are rising to the advantage of locals, as all realty properties are owned by them. And the demand is fuelled exclusively by expatriate migrant workers. “The rents of office space are not seeing a similar increase, further corroborating the fact that rents are pushed up mainly due to demand from expatriate families.”

14 % of the voters felt the move to limit expatriate residences will affect the country’s developmental projects. Kuwait has big developmental projects in the pipeline, all of which depend heavily on the expatriate work force. “The wealth of expatriate workforce, not only labors, but also engineers, technicians and other professionals are an asset for the country. The projects will come to a grinding halt if the residency proposal gets implemented.”

Many respondents quoted the opinions of Kuwaiti intellectuals who said that it takes five years for a professional to get settled in his job and understand the larger picture of the projects. “To pack them off in five years will lead to perpetual incompetence, which will tell upon the quality of Kuwait’s infrastructure.” Other voters liked to look at it from the angle of legal consequences. While demand for workforce is high and the supply is impeded by bad policies, people will resort to violating the law. “This will only serve to help in human trafficking and visa trading. We are headed for a manpower disaster if this population policy continues.”

About 7% of the voters complained about the cost of labor. This is from an employer’s point of view. When worker are hard to get, the cost of labor is bound to rise. “This will lead to a domino effect on production and price of goods. It will make inflation even worse.” Voters who supported the policy totaled 11 %. Their arguments were based on increased opportunities for Kuwaitis, better traffic situation and lower rents.


By: Valiya S. Sajjad Arab Times Staff

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