According to a recent report by Al- Qabas daily “Government authorities are studying the possibility of issuing a decision to instruct money exchange bureaus in the country to prevent expatriates from remitting more than their monthly salary in one month.” The apparent reason for controlling expat’s remittances is due to expatriates remitting “about 6.9 percent of the country’s total revenues, which however has a direct impact on the country’s economy.
Moreover, it has been observed that the remittances have been increasing lately” (Arab Times Oct 7, 2015). As far as I understand economy’s basic ideas, putting more controls on residents’ remittances, money transfers will not improve our Kuwaiti economy. In fact, preventing residents from sending money to their loved ones back home goes against all economic principles applied and used in today’s world.
It is of course understandable if the government starts imposing taxes on money exchange companies and offices, however, customers of these companies should not suffer in return. Why not, for example, limit the increasing fees some money exchange bureaus demand from expats? There needs to be put in place more regulations to provide more protection to residents who wish to remit money to their families abroad. It is going to be more difficult for our resident friends and partners if they have to pay extra fees or suffer the limitation of their money transfers. People come to Kuwait and work very hard in order to earn a decent living and in order to help their loved- ones back home.
Putting more controls on expat remittances does not reflect a sound economic policy. For example, expats who work in the Gulf region suffer no limitations in the amounts of money they can send to their home country, and they continue to contribute to the development of regional economies. Improving our Kuwaiti economy requires providing more financial security to expats who are the backbone of both our public and private sectors.
The government should try to lift any burdens, which prevent our expatriate friends and partners from fully contributing to improving our local economy. I do believe that all our devoted and diligent expats, especially our brothers and sisters from Asia, do work hard to transform Kuwait into a successful regional economy. Therefore, we as Kuwaitis should continue to appreciate their contributions to Kuwait and its people. Limiting remittances or imposing extra fees on expats’ money transfers will increase their financial burdens and would make it harder for them to help their families.
By Khaled Aljenfawi