Kuwaiti lawmakers urge scrapping of expat essential services subsidies

Published:  11 Mar at 6 PM
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A group of influential Kuwaiti lawmakers are calling on the emirate’s government to cancel the subsidies given to expats for essential services such as water and electricity.

The group claims the government is no longer able to afford to continue the scheme.The move, if successful, will mean an average monthly bill for a small apartment would rise to around US$350, more than most low-paid expat workers receive in wages. At the same time, a group of Kuwaiti MPs are accusing the government of wasting billions every year on the subsidized services for all Kuwaitis and are suggesting Kuwaiti nationals should get the services free while expats pay the full price.

The proposal is one of a raft of schemes being put forward by politicians which target expats, including a plan to increase expat charges for medical services such as x-rays, operations and check-ups. Another suggestion made last month by lawmakers involved designating specific times of day during which expats could seek medical help, with the rest of the time given over to Kuwaiti nationals.

Non-nationals, the proposal stated, should only be allowed to attend hospitals in the evening, and staff would be segregated by nationality, a suggestion which some regarded as racist. Expat workers at all levels in Kuwait account for 66 per cent of the oil-rich state’s just under three million residents.
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