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‘Cutting subsidies on petrol may help solve traffic crisis’ ‘Kuwaitis first in their country’

 In one of its recent and interesting online polls the Arab Times probed people’s opinions about the plans to cut subsidies for expatriates in Kuwait. A majority of voters, about 27 percent, felt that more than anything else such a move would create a feeling of alienation among expatriates living in the country”! Some of those who responded to the poll argued that “many expatriates enjoy far more benefits than what their own countries provide them” (see Arab Times, April 26, 2014).

What is remarkable in the recent Arab Times’ poll is its revelation of the fact that expats do actually receive subsidized services in Kuwait! As far as I know, the government is only responsible for providing subsidized services and basic prices for its own Kuwaiti citizens.

According to our constitution the government is required to maintain decent living conditions for its own citizens, and certainly not expats. What seemed to have been left out from the Arab Times’ poll questions is what actually happens in reality? Do some expats infringe upon citizens’ rights and illegally exploit subsidized services designated for citizens? One needs to read the crime section in some of our daily newspapers to read the frequent reports about smuggling of subsidized food, and fuel outside Kuwait. Moreover, one can witness similar violations upon the rights of Kuwaiti citizens in different public sectors such as perhaps using subsidized health services, receiving free citizen — subsidized medicine.

As a Kuwaiti citizen, I do not have the right to share with the citizens of another country their own subsidized or government funded services and commodities. Actually, it is extremely difficult for a Kuwaiti citizen to get any free government services abroad.

Therefore, it is rather awkward to complain about the lack of subsidies or their cuts in relation to expats living and working temporarily in Kuwait. Logically, removing subsidies on fuel would be followed by the removing of subsidized electricity.

In addition, to contributing to solving the traffic crisis in Kuwait, allowing Kuwaitis to receive subsidized fuel according to their monthly consumption is a good step. It is not necessarily true that cutting subsidies will increase alienation among the expat population. It is in fact very uncommon in today’s world and in today’s rapidly changing global economy to establish an intimate relationship with the country one works in! In a globalized world, sometimes contradictory economic forces shape how we react to our job experiences.

Living and working in a country for a particular time period does not give me as an expat worker the right to demand more than what I have been promised earlier: temporary job security; decent living conditions; and a ticket back home at the end of my contract. Even though few may argue that not allowing expats to use some subsidized services in Kuwait might increase inflation in the country; yet such logic is illogical! In other words, there are other forces in the local and global markets which may increase inflation; safeguarding the financial and social security of citizens is not among them. Follow me on Twitter @khaledaljenfawi

By: Khaled Aljenfawi

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