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Expatriate Health Insurance News: Kuwait plans to cut expats by 1m in 10 years

Kuwait has long been a top destination for expatriates looking for high paid work, but that is set to change after the government announced plans to cut the number of foreigners working in the country by one million over the next decade.

At present, 68 per cent of the Gulf state's population is made up of expats, but the authorities believe that this is at the detriment of locals who cannot compete on the same level for jobs.

Thekra Al-Rasheedi, the social affairs and labour minister, told the KUNA news agency: "The ministry will take decisions and measures … aimed at reducing the number of expatriate workers by 100,000 every year for ten years to reach one million."

Those measures are expected to include eliminating financial perks and imposing new taxes, which is likely to have the desired effect and see an exodus of expats.

Kuwaitis and expats currently receive government subsidies on amenities such as water, electricity and fuel, but foreigners may no longer qualify for such benefits.

A value added tax (VAT) is under consideration for being introduced by the government too, with some officials suggesting that income tax should also be brought in.

While the moves are seen as a way to give Kuwaitis a better chance at securing high end jobs and boosting the country's cash reserves, it is thought that the loss of top talent could have a detrimental effect.

One British expat working in the oil industry told the Telegraph: "I find it quite hard to believe the government needs the money, as it has such a large surplus from oil revenues. They are in danger of seeing an exodus of expats to neighbouring countries."

Medical services are another area which is coming under scrutiny with some politicians making calls for expats to pay for X-rays, operations and check-ups out of their own pocket.

Kuwait is not the only country trying to cut down on its reliance on foreign workers, with Saudi Arabia now issuing fines to companies employing more expats than local staff.

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