Foreign workers pay the price for a crime they didn’t commit

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By: Kelvin Nembo Njuhsop

Starting June 1st, Finance Minister instructed government ministries, institutions and entities funded by the state to reduce the monthly costs for non-Qatari employees by 30%, either by cutting salaries or laying off workers with a two-month notice, Bloomberg reported. A move according to government, aimed enhancing their efforts as they try to shore up their finances to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Declines in energy prices have dented Gulf state’s coffers just as local economies struggle under the pandemic-driven lockdowns. Most are bridging the gap with a combination of spending cuts and debt issuance. Qatar, which is due to host the 2022 soccer World Cup, raised $10 billion in debt in April.

In introducing cuts targeting foreign workers or support programs that exclude them, Qatar is joining its neighbors from Oman to the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, Kuwait’s prime minister said the country’s expatriate population should be more than halved to 30% of the total.

According to economists, cutting jobs and salaries for foreigners could threaten Qatar’s economic growth by raising the risk of labor shortages and hurting consumer spending given that Foreigners constitute about 95% of the total workforce. Oxford Economics predicted Qatar could see roughly 105 of its population depart, an exodus that ‘could have a longer-lasting implication’.

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