Kuwait has reintroduced a ban on the recruitment of workers from Bangladesh, reports the Kuwait Times.
However, the report did not mention whether it was a general ban on workers – both skilled and unskilled – or a certain category of workers who were to be barred from receiving work permits.
When contacted over phone, Abdul Latif Khan, labour counsellor at the Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait, told the Dhaka Tribune that the labour market for Bangladesh workers was still open, although restrictions had been imposed on male domestic helpers.
According to a May 2 Kuwait Times report, quoting a circular issued by the gulf country’s assistant under-secretary for citizenship and passport affairs Major General Sheikh Mazen al-Jarrah, the Kuwaiti government had agreed to allow it’s citizens to bring domestic helpers from Bangladesh, under certain conditions.
The decision covers male only workers and conditions include that each Kuwaiti citizen can bring just one helper only and must not already have one from the same nationality.
“Earlier, anyone could come to Kuwait from Bangladesh with personal sponsorship which was free. The provision is still free for all, but the authorities had imposed the restriction only on import of male house maids [sic],” he said.
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A handful of Bangladeshi workers at Dhaka Shahjalal International Airport on August 4, 2013 Dhaka Tribune
When asked about the reasons behind such a specific ban, sources in the embassy, seeking anonymity, said the Kuwaiti authorities tightened the provision after incidents of some Bangladeshis manipulating the system came to light. They declined to elaborate further.
But they said one of the latest additions to the provision was that Kuwaiti residents must own a house there in order to be eligible to employ a Bangladeshi domestic helper.
Wednesday’s Kuwait Times report says Sheikh Mazen al-Jarrah on Monday decided to enforce the ban after viewing statistics of the number of Bangladeshis currently residing in Kuwait.
Read more- Kuwait might open doors for Bangladeshi professionals
Wednesday’s KT report also says, quoting interior ministry sources, that the Bangladeshi population in Kuwait reached the 200,000 threshold at the end of the first week of September.
During a three-day state-level visit to Dhaka by Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah in May this year, a senior official at the Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait, seeking anonymity, told the Dhaka Tribune that the gulf country was expected to start importing white collar professionals from Bangladesh following the visit.
Kuwait’s job market had been closed to Bangladeshis for around seven years until January 2014, when the country started taking in Bangladeshi blue collar workers in the agriculture, cleaning and driving sectors.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, as of August 31 a total 20,025 Bangladeshis have gone to Kuwait to work this year. Last year the total was 17,472.
Some 520,247 Bangladeshis have travelled to Kuwait to work between 1976 and September this year, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET).
Bangladeshi expatriates in Kuwait remitted $254.85m in the first three months of this year. Remittances for the entire 2015 was $1,052.55m.
According to media reports, the Gulf Cooperation Council-member country has stepped up deportations of expatriate workers this year.
A newspaper in the Gulf state reported in May that most of those deported were expelled for overstaying their residency permits, but others were sent home for committing traffic offences.
In the first four months of the year, authorities deported 14,400 expatriates, compared to 26,600 for the whole of 2015, Al Anba newspaper reported.
Expatriates make up some 70% of Kuwait’s 4.3m population.
In May, a number of Bangladeshi expatriates living in Kuwait told the Dhaka Tribune over phone that they had not been affected by the deportations.