With most Gulf countries taking austerity measures or planning to impose tax on the income of expatriates, many Indians in those nations are sending their families back to India. Others have decided not to take their families with them.
Oman, in particular -which has released an austeritydriven budget -has made moves that are likely to affect the monthly expenses of expats.
Low oil prices have also hit the economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Gulf economies, with the exception of Dubai, are almost fully dependent on petro income. The free fall in crude prices has led to job cuts and resulted in companies not granting increments. There are no new projects and there have been several project cancellations across the region.
GCC countries are now imposing taxes and have increased the cost of fuel locally. Water and electricity and other utility charges have also increased, making it tough for Indian expats. Six months ago, GCC countries imposed income tax on expats while the UAE is in the process of intro ducing value added tax (VAT) and tax on remittances.
“A few companies have cancelled their projects. The only silver lining is Expo 2020 to be hosted in Dubai, where industry hopes to sign major projects,“ Dubai-based K V Shamsudeen of the Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust said.
“Dubai, Qatar and Kuwait have projects worth $100 billion to complete,“ he said.“One of the main reasons families are returning to India is high rent and difficulty in getting school admission for heir children. Though Dubai has eight new schools, it is next to impossible to get a seat and the only alternative is to move back to India.“
According to Indian diplomats in Dubai, a number of companies have either laid off staff or cut down on salaries.Arun Kumar, an HR executive rom Bengaluru, who lost his ob in Dubai a few months ago said, “All of us are saddled with loans that we took to get our sisters married or to build ahouse. I defaulted on two cheque payments for a personal loan and when the bank executives arrived in my office, the company fired me.“
“Life is getting miserable for most of us who are from middle-class families,“ he said. “It is tough enough to live alone; very few of us can afford to have our families with us. A number of my friends and I have sent our families back to India.“