Around eight lakh Indians may have to leave Kuwait if a draft legislation on expats in the country is promulgated, Gulf News reported on Sunday. The proposed law states that the Indian population in the country should not exceed 15%. Indians comprise the largest expat community in Kuwait, with nearly 14.5 lakh members.

Kuwait’s population stands at 43 lakh, with locals making up just 13 lakh, while the balance 30 lakh are expatriates, PTI reported. In June, Kuwait Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah proposed reducing the number of expats from 70% to 30% of the population.

Kuwait’s interior ministry will submit the draft law to the National Assembly’s legal and legislative committee in the next few weeks. Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem confirmed to Kuwait TV that he and a few lawmakers will submit the comprehensive proposed legislation that calls for a gradual cut in the number of expats in the country.

Ghanem added that it was difficult to introduce quotas with percentages for different nationalities at the moment. He was referring to another proposed legislation passed on Thursday that allots percentages for certain foreign communities.

“I understand that we recruit doctors and skilled manpower and not unskilled labourer,” Ghanem said, according to Kuwait Times. “This is an indication that there is a distortion. Visa traders have contributed in increasing this figure.” He added that the draft legislation will call for a limit on the expat community, whose numbers should be decreased by allowing 70% one year and 65% in the following year.

The draft law states that the number of expats that can be employed every year should also be determined along with their specialisation and other details, Ghanem said. The speaker said that the Assembly is determined to finish the legislation before the end of term in October.

The proposed legislation, however, also calls for similar caps on the number of other nationalities, including Egyptians who form the second largest expat community in the country, The Times of India reported.

Kuwait is a primary source of remittances for India, which received nearly $4.8 billion (over Rs 35,800 crore) from the country in 2018. Around 28,000 Indians work for the Kuwaiti government, including nurses, engineers in state-run oil companies and scientists. As many as 5.23 lakh Indians are employed in the private sector. Around 1.6 lakh are dependents and nearly 60,000 Indian students are studying in schools in Kuwait.

The outbreak of the coronavirus has led to an increase in anti-expat rhetoric in Kuwait as the country’s politicians and governmental officials call for a reduction in the number of foreigners. According to the Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker, 49,941 cases of the disease have been reported in Kuwait.