MP questions expat numbers, issuance of new work permits

MP Omar Al-Tabtabaei

KUWAIT: MP Omar Al-Tabtabaei yesterday probed the number of expatriates in the country in a series of questions to Minister of State for Economic Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel. Tabtabaei said on his Twitter account that the questions were prompted by reports about an influx of Egyptian workers into Kuwait. The reports said that around 100,000 new work permits were issued last year to Egyptian workers, with around 8,000 new Egyptian entrants into the labor market monthly.

Tabtabaei said the issuance of a large number of new work permits came even after the government pledged to take measures to rebalance the labor market, including restricting the issuance of new work permits. In his questions, the lawmaker asked the minister about the number of expats who entered the country on new work permits in the past three years based on nationality. He also inquired about the qualifications of expats who were recruited in the past three years.

Tabtabaei asked about the number of expats employed in ministries and other public sector jobs over the last three years, and also the number of unemployed Kuwaitis registered with the government. He also inquired if those expats obtained their degrees from recognized universities. Based on latest figures, the number of expat laborers in Kuwait is 2.85 million – a quarter of them domestic helpers. There are also around 550,000 expat dependents – children and housewives – making the total number of expats 3.4 million.

Last month, Director General of the Public Authority for Manpower Ahmad Al-Mousa said bringing in expat labor is subject to rules mentioned in labor law 6/2010 and its decisions. He said the authority carries out its responsibilities to issue work permits based on employers’ requests according to rules that are not related to the nationality or numbers of expat workers. He said the labor law and the law establishing the authority 109/2013 gave it the right to bring in labor based on employers’ requests.

By B Izzak