Kuwait News

 

 

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 20: The government may decide to repeal all forms of subsidy by March 2020 if it implements the remaining aspects of the recommendations contained in the report of Ernst &Young, which the Ministry of Finance assigned to prepare the roadmap for subsidy reform, reports Arab Times daily.

A source noted the report was ready a few months ago but was kept under wraps to avoid undue parliamentary reaction, adding its implementation is not binding until all concerned authorities approve of it.

He explained that the government had already applied certain aspects of the recommendations regarding fuel, electricity and water subsidies. He also said power subsidy forms around 71 percent of subsidies in Kuwait. Four major steps have since been proposed for future action.

The steps include gradual reduction in the rate of fuel subsidy, and prices of electricity and water will also be increased gradually to reduce the rate at which a raise in prices will affect consumers and the economy. As for aviation fuel, the report advised the government to remove subsidy for foreign companies since it appears the purpose of doing that has not been met.

However, there must be a way of assisting it to be competitive in the international market before removing its subsidy. The last of the four steps is about liquefied gas whose price the report recommended a thorough study to restore its proper market value.

The report recommended gradual removal of subsidies from other sectors such as the overseas medical treatment, which covers about 6 percent of the subsidies.

The same recommendation was for education sector that consumes 4 percent of the subsidies, in addition to social welfare that consumes 5 percent of subsidies, rent allowances that covers 4 percent, social aid that accounts for 1 percent and inflation allowance 4 percent. Others include financial support of 3 percent, media support of around 0.01 percent, and agriculture and fishing sector that consumes less than 1 percent of the entire subsidies.

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 21: Mubarak Al-Kabeer Governorate will serve as the first pilot study coverage area in the issuance of Municipality licenses online beginning next week while the remaining five governorates follow suit later in the year, reports Al-Anba daily quoting Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, the State Minister for Municipality Affairs Mohammad Al- Jabri as saying.

In his first media chat since assuming office, the minister said he has filled many vacant supervisory posts in the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, as well as the State Ministry for Municipality Affairs, affirming he will never accept injustice against any member of society and each person will get whatever he deserves.

He reiterated the only criterion that is important to him for such an appointment is competency, indicating he passed the same message to officials of both ministries and he’ll deal with each individual based on performance rather than affiliations.

He encouraged employees to submit petitions whenever they are mistreated or cheated on, because he plays an open door policy in his administration. He stressed the ministry will sort out problems associated with mosques, which are supposed to be purely for worshipping. He indicated Kuwait Awqaf Public Administration will fund the construction of all mosques.

He hinted two different investigative committees have been set up in the two ministries, while a joint committee will investigate the demolition of electricity room at a mosque in Block 1, Sulaibiya. He assured the demolition of mosques is unacceptable. He assured all clerics are playing their roles in various mosques as expected— in line with the right moderation in Islam away from exaggeration and extremism. He also said new entitlements for Imams and preachers will begin from April.

 

KUWAIT CITY: Civil Service Commission (CSC) has declared next Saturday and Sunday as public holiday on the occasion of the National Days celebration, and normal work will resume on Monday Feb 27. Consequently, public sector employees will have a three-day break starting from Friday.

In a circular, CSC stated the Council of Ministers has decided to grant workers in all government departments and agencies holiday to celebrate the Liberation and Independence Days on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

It called for departments with peculiar nature of work to fix the holiday of their workers in a way that serve the interest of the public.

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 21: The National Bureau for Academic Accreditation and Quality of Education has decided to withdraw 3,000 master-degree holders in Ministry of Education and some private universities because they obtained their degrees from unaccredited universities that are not included in the accreditation list of the bureau, reports Al-Shahed daily.

Meanwhile, the General Education Sector of Ministry of Education has launched four new educational supervisory functions, which includes assistant director of kindergarten, principal of primary school, instructor of chemistry, biology and music, reports Al-Rai daily quoting informed sources. They revealed that the step was taken due to work requirements and shortage of staff.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary of Ministry of Education Dr Haitham Al-Atari has declared that the ministry will hire male and female teachers from Jordan and Egypt to work in the General Education Sector in the next academic year 2017/2018.

The sources revealed that the ministry has requested Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inform the Kuwaiti embassies in the aforementioned countries to publish advertisements in the local newspapers, adding that the two embassies will receive applications until the concerned committees will arrive to take interviews of the applicants.

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 21, (AP): Kuwait’s first new government hospital in more than three decades will soon open its doors — but only to Kuwaiti citizens. It’s the latest in a series of steps targeting foreigners, including laborers who build high-rise towers, sweep the roads and clean toilets in this tiny oilrich emirate: a group that far outnumbers the native population.

The 304 million dinar ($997 million) Jaber Hospital, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Kuwait City, is expected to open in the coming months. It will be the first government hospital built in Kuwait since 1984, taking some pressure off an overburdened public health system.

US ally Kuwait, like other oil-rich Arabian Gulf states, has for decades offered a free cradle-to-grave health care for its citizens, along with plenty of generous perks such as subsidized utility prices and housing grants.

But services have been fraying in recent years — despite the cushion of several hundred billion dollars that Kuwait has been building since the 1970s, mostly in a fund for future generations.

That money, which stays out of the state budget, is meant to provide for Kuwaitis when the oil runs out. It carried Kuwait through the expenses of the seven-month Iraqi occupation and the 1991 US-led Gulf War that liberated it.

Expatriates with residency and work visas in Kuwait get subsidized health care. A foreign laborer — usually from another Arab country or an Asian migrant — would pay 1 Kuwaiti dinar ($3.2) to see a doctor at a public hospital. His employer would typically pay for him an annual health insurance to the government of 50 dinars, or about $160.

Western expats who live and work in Kuwait tend to go to private hospitals as part of lucrative health care packages provided by their employers. Many see the new, citizens-only hospital as a step too far. “They were granted their workers’ visa. They deserve to be treated with dignity,” Dr Yousef al-Muhanna, a 34- year old general surgeon, said of the migrant workers.

The discrimination goes against the Hippocratic Oath, he says. “We are not supposed to look at their passports – we are supposed to deal with their medical conditions.” The shift started sometime last year, when hospitals and clinics in Jahra, west of the capital, and the Amiri Hospital in Kuwait City began barring expatriates from morning visits for nonemergency services.

Recently, lawmaker Safaa al-Hashem told the media in Kuwait’s parliament that “expats are crowding our hospitals and competing with us for the air we breathe in hospital waiting rooms.” She complained that many foreigners bring families on visitor visas to enjoy Kuwait’s health care benefits, including deliveries, gastric bypass surgeries, cancer treatment, and other procedures. “Isn’t time for us to put an end to this? We must reform the current system; we must impose taxes on expatriates, not on Kuwaitis,” she said. It’s not just the health care.

Kuwait’s government and politicians have grown more wary of foreigners in other sectors as well in recent years, adopting or promoting a series of policies that target the roughly 3 million expats living and working here.

Legislation last April increased the price of electricity and water in all residential buildings, but exempted Kuwaiti nationals. Social media posts and tweets by Kuwaitis and even statements from officials blaming expats for everything — from traffic congestion to the raiding of open buffets by wedding crashers — are becoming all too common.

Earlier this month, when Egypt beat Burkina Faso in the first semifinals match of the soccer African Cup of Nations, Kuwait’s ministry of interior warned Egyptian expats — one of the largest Arab communities here — against celebrating their team’s win with car parades.

The traditional parades are a raucous event, with soccer fans driving around honking their cars, music blasting and flags waving from car windows. The ministry said it would immediately deport anyone who takes part in “illegal parades” — so the Egyptians kept their partying off the streets. “As an Arab expat, when you go to the West, they call you a terrorist or refugee,” said Egyptian architect Waleed Shalaan, who has been living in Kuwait since 1999 and considers it his home. “You go to the Gulf states, they call you a leech or a parasite.”

Recent law changes require foreigners to have a minimum monthly salary of 400 Kuwaiti dinars ($1,309), and spend two years in Kuwait before applying for a local driving license — with the exception of some professions such as doctors, journalists, university professors, and engineers. Housewives and students may not drive, and anyone caught driving without a license can be deported.

Only tourists and others on a visitor’s visa can drive with an international license. After al-Hashem’s “air we breathe” comment, fellow lawmaker Abdulkareem al-Kandari called for a special session of parliament to discuss what he called the “alarming increase in the number of expats versus Kuwaiti nationals.” “We refuse to be a minority in our own country,” he said — though Kuwaiti nationals already are, with foreigners making up about 70 percent of the population of 4.2 million. Several lawmakers demanded the government deport 100,000 expats annually to balance the country’s demographics.

Without offering details, Hind al- Sabeeh, the minister of social affairs, promised a plan to “balance the demographics of the country over the next five years, without disrupting the balance of work.” Hind Francis, an analyst at the Rai Institute think tank, said xenophobic sentiments have been on the rise in Kuwait as a way to deflect blame from the authorities.

“Many big problems that concern the public are blamed on the expatriates: congested roads, overcrowded hospitals, many areas in which public policy has failed,” she said. Sarah al-Qabandi, a 35-year old corporate social responsibility manager in the private Ooredoo Telecom says that blaming Kuwait’s problems on the expats is a shame. “We expect people abroad to treat us like royalty … we want to be treated well, and yet we don’t welcome anyone in our own country,” she said.

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 19: Several politicians, academics and public commentators are of the view that amendment to Article 79 of the Constitution will push Kuwait further to extremism and render the country a “Talebani” state, adding Allah the Almighty orders Muslims to be moderate and lenient in practicing the religion. In his comment, Legal Advisor at Kuwait Lawyers Association Lawyer Hamdan Al-Nemshan said the issue of amending Article 79 of the stipulated “A bill will not become law until the National Assembly passes it and His Highness the Amir ratifies it in line with Islamic tenets”.

He said the act is only an attempt to show off in the media and it is unfortunate that some lawmakers are ignorant of the Constitution. He quoted Article 2 of the Constitution, which says “Islam is the religion of the country and Islamic Sharia is the major source of legislation”. Contributing to the discussion, Chairman of the Media Committee of Kuwait Society for Evaluating Parliamentary Performances Faisal Al-Harbi disclosed that MP Hayef Al-Mutairi requested amendment to Article 79 in 2009 and 2012 parliaments but the effort turned out futile.

He is of the view that the lawmaker might have resorted to initiate the issue due to pressure from the electorate in his constituency. He observed the country has many more important and urgent issues to handle right now. He cited the need for national economic development by finding other sources of income besides oil.

He added several hot political issues are happening in the region at the moment that deserves serious attention and effort. In his response, renowned economist and professor of Business Administration at Kuwait University Dr Ali Al-Hababi argued that Kuwait is naturally a Muslim country that does not need amendment to Article 79, and the majority of laws in the country are Islamic. He cited the banking law by which Al-Azhar University approves banking interests, saying it is an aspect of improvement in the Islamic jurisprudence.

 

Najeh Bilal Al-Seyassah Staff

Source: Arab Times

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 19: A number of Kuwaitis and expatriates expressed resentment over the widespread manipulation of commodity prices in many stores. They urged for increased monitoring of markets by the concerned authorities in order to bring an end to this negative phenomenon.

Omar Zedan explained that some stores cheat by displaying low prices on the racks but charge higher prices at the cash counters. They take advantage of the tiredness that customers experience from shopping for a long time, which renders them unable to review the receipts.

Adel Amir revealed that he has recently adopted the practice of checking the prices at the cash counter, as he has been a victim of several swindling acts. He urged the monitoring bodies to focus their observation on such stores.

Umm Yousef said the phenomenon of cheating customers has become widespread extending even to the cooperative societies. For example, inside cartons of fruits and vegetables, the good fruits or vegetables are placed on top while the rotten ones are hidden underneath.

A Kuwaiti citizen Abu Abdullah indicated that manipulation of prices is done in many ways. He revealed that he once bought an item for KD 2 but when he discovered the actual price was KD 1.700, he complained to the administration and the latter apologized. Another citizen Saleh Al-Enezi revealed that he picked a bottle of oil with price marked on the racks as KD 0.990 but when he went to the cash counter, he was shocked to realize the actual price was KD 1.300.

When he complained to the cashier, the latter said the cost of KD 0.990 is of another product. Zaki Saleem said some stores place the price tags on the racks in a deceiving manner such that they overlap with the price tags of other commodities.

By Najeh Bilal Al-Seyassah Staff

Source: Arab Times

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