Thursday , October 19 2017

Barring public health services will hurt expatriates most – ‘Taxing income unfair, harsh’

In this week’s Arab Times online poll, readers responded to which measures would be most hurtful to the expatriate community in Kuwait, with the majority perceiving that barring public health services would affect them the most.

While the World Health Organization states that Kuwait has one of the most modern health care infrastructures in the region; demonstrating a strong commitment to health at the highest level and the genuine national desire to achieve a very high standard of health including sufficient resources allocated to public health, the drop in revenues caused by slump in crude prices have put pressure on budgets.

Restricting access to kidney dialysis treatment and certain drugs at public hospitals, and rumours that the new Jaber Al Ahmad Hospital would cater to only Kuwaiti patients had already perturbed the expatriate community but recent reports of proposals that suggest cancelling subsidization of health services for expatriates entirely have come as a shock to many.

31 percent of voters felt that restricting access to the public healthcare system would severely affect expatriates in Kuwait. “I think discrimination among nationals and expatriates in the healthcare sector is very wrong, it totally goes against the country’s humanitarian values”, a reader told the Arab Times.

“Expatriates already pay health insurance so I don’t see why the government is coming out with so many proposals on restricting services to us. We are easy scapegoats, how are we supposed to afford private healthcare? Companies are not required to provide health insurance coverage”, an expatriate reader opined.

Another 19 percent of voters felt that an increase in residence fees would be unwelcome. “There are many companies in Kuwait that do not pay employees’ residence fees themselves and the workers have to shoulder the burden. An increase in fees will adversely affect many expatriates”, a reader commented.

While 28 percent shared that an income tax would hit the expatriate community hard, only 13 percent felt that taxes on remittances would be the most harmful measure. “I think taxing the income and remittances of expatriates is very unfair because the majority do not earn high salaries. The cost of living is escalating and there is no wage policy in place”, a reader shared.

However it must come as good news to many that the parliamentary Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee on Sunday rejected a bill submitted by MP Kamel Al- Awadhi to amend the Central Bank of Kuwait Law in order to impose a five percent fee on the remittances of expatriates.

9 percent felt that the cancellation of driving licenses for certain professions would be undesirable for most expatriates and only 1 percent of voters felt that an implementation of road tax would adversely affect them. “Getting a driving license is hard enough in Kuwait, more restrictions and cancellations will severely affect mobility for expats.”

By Cinatra Fernandes Arab Times Staff

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