MPs slam rising expat numbers, remittances

Assembly panel talks Iran, Trump with govt

KUWAIT: Lawmakers who had signed on a motion for a special debate on the rising numbers of expatriates in the country yesterday demanded that the session be held on Feb 2. MPs Abdulkarim Al-Kandari, Riyadh Al-Adasani, Mohammad Al-Dallal, Waleed Al-Tabtabaei and Abdulwahab Al-Babtain signed the motion and said they want to debate the government’s failure in checking the number of expatriates in the country and halting visa trafficking.

The motion said that Kuwaiti citizens are concerned that they have become a minority in their own country, especially as the government has failed to control the rising number of expatriates. The lawmakers said they want the debate to focus on the implications of the large number of expatriates on infrastructure, especially health, education, power and traffic services, which are already in a bad shape. They want the debate to discuss the size of remittances being sent out of the country by expatriates without any benefit to the state. The lawmakers demanded to know the measures adopted by the government in this effect.

Meanwhile, MP Safaa Al-Hashem, who had called for a clampdown on expatriates and for making them pay charges for using roads, yesterday reiterated her call, saying that Kuwait no longer needs expatriates as Kuwaiti citizens can run the country. She did not elaborate.

But a large number of writers, human rights defenders and activists yesterday strongly criticized MPs for their discriminatory statements targeting expatriates and calling for deporting a large number of them. Director of Kuwait Human Rights Association Mohammad Al-Humaidi said that before MPs and the government start issuing statements calling to expel expatriates, they should first hold to account those who brought them here, starting with the big ones.

Activist and former election candidate Aroub Al-Rifai wrote on her Twitter that it is wrong and shameful to look down on expatriates when the problems associated with them “were created by us”. Prominent economist Abdulmajeed Al-Shatti said in an article in Al-Jarida newspaper that it was not possible and not even helpful for the Kuwaiti economy to get rid of a large number of expatriates at once, adding that this should be done gradually over two decades and more.

In another development, the National Assembly’s foreign relations committee yesterday discussed with Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah regional and international developments, especially relations with Iran and expected political changes after US President-Elect Donald Trump takes office. Head of the committee MP Ali Al-Deqbasi said the government answered the panel’s questions about continuous Iranian provocations and acts of aggression against Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.

He said that during the meeting, the committee expressed strong popular protest against Iranian practices and called on the government for continued caution, but also for continuing dialogue in order to resolve the problems to ensure security amid the prevailing regional turmoil. Deqbasi expressed strong trust in the political leadership and its measures to safeguard Kuwait’s security and sovereignty, and also supported the foreign ministry’s efforts to protect Kuwait’s interests.

Asked if any government fears were expressed over a change in the US policy after Trump takes office tomorrow, Deqbasi said the committee received assurances from the government about Kuwait’s neutral position and also heard about all possible scenarios of what could happen in the United States. Deqbasi denied that the meeting discussed the Gulf security pact.

By B Izzak


This article was published on 18/01/2017