Expats in Kuwait to pay huge power price increases

Published:  4 Apr at 6 PM
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Expats look set to lose out in the Kuwaiti government’s fight over increased electricity and water charges.

A government bill proposing increases in charges for electricity and water across the board in Kuwait was thrown out yesterday by the National Assembly’s committee for financial and economic affairs. In its place is a new bill limiting the high tariff increases to expats only, leaving Kuwaiti nationals to pay a reduced rate of increase.

Under the rejected bill, power charges for private homes were slated to soar between twice as expensive to seven times dearer, dependent on usage. The term ‘private homes’ normally refers to properties owned by Kuwaiti nationals, with expat-owned properties classed as ‘apartments’. The government bill stated that the usage increases for apartment would kick in at a lower usage level, with electricity over 2,000 kilowatts used per month being charged at 15 fils per KW, far higher than at present

The new proposal suggests that a majority of low to middle-income Kuwaitis would be untouched by the increases as private homes mostly consume under 6,000 KW per month. However, electricity bills for expats are expected to soar should the new bill be passed as no changes have been made to the original structure of the increases for the apartment category. A government response on the new bill is expected later this week.

Meanwhile, in Oman, a salary-based increase in taxes for expats is being discussed by members of the emirate’s Shura Council. If passed, the proposal would impose a three per cent of salary monthly tax on expatriate workers. The aim of the proposal is to encourage the replacement with Omani workers of a large number of expats.

According to Nabhan Al Battashi from Oman’s General Federation of Trade Unions, most high-level private sector positions are held by expats, with those in top jobs expected to have to pay for the privilege of living and working in the emirate via the new tax. The tax is also expected to raise the emirate’s income, thus compensating for the drop in revenue and increasing deficit caused by the continuing slump in oil prices.
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