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Kuwait’s prime minister has said the country’s expatriate population should be more than halved to 30% of the total, as the coronavirus pandemic and a slump in oil prices send shudders through Gulf economies.
Foreigners account for nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s 4.8 million people, and “we have a future challenge to redress this imbalance,” Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah told the top editors of local newspapers on Wednesday, according to an official statement carried by state-run KUNA.
The comments are a rare public acknowledgment by the executive of one of Kuwait’s most contentious issues, and follow a renewed push by lawmakers to reduce the number of overseas workers, particularly unskilled labor, with the economy under intense strain. MPs are proposing a quota system as well as replacing all expatriate government employees, estimated at 100,000, with Kuwaitis.