KUWAIT CITY, Oct 5: The Kuwaiti government agreed to compensate citizens for hiking petrol prices in a plan to “partially liberalise” the fuel subsidy, Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said on Wednesday.
Those holding driver’s licences would be compensated with a quantity of “free petrol” each month, Ghanem told reporters after a three-hour meeting between the government and a number of lawmakers. Ghanem said the amount of free petrol that would be given was about 75 litres (20 gallons) a month per citizen.
The cost of petrol would be revised on a monthly basis depending on the price of oil on international markets, he said, adding this represented a “partial liberalisation” of subsidies. Kuwait fully liberalised the prices of diesel and kerosene at the start of 2015.
Earlier in the morning — before the Parliament- government meeting, Al-Ghanem discussed the same issue with HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and Finance Minister Anas Saleh in the Cabinet headquarters.
Al-Ghanem thanked HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for “receiving the hearts of the two authorities.” He affirmed, “We informed His Highness the Amir about the parliamentary and governmental views on facing economic challenges.”
He said the parliamentary Finance Committee’s recommendation to support the citizens directly was taken into consideration during the meeting. He disclosed the gasoline prices will be reviewed every month as per the decision taken by the two authorities in their meetings with the committee earlier. He added HH the Amir has stressed the need for economic reform without any negative impact on citizens.
He also clarified that the law, which gives the government authority to increase fuel prices, was ratified in 1975; indicating the 75 liters of gasoline that will be given to the citizens are equivalent to 30 percent of the price increase value.
Meanwhile, HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al- Sabah asserted the government will not accept any decision which harms citizens. “We operate with the guidance of his Highness the Amir in all our decisions,” the premier added while confirming that he and the ministers have answered all queries regarding gasoline prices.
On the other hand, MP Abdullah Al- Mayouf is of the view that the meeting was marked by clarity and it was in the interest of citizens, stating the agreement reached in the meeting will be implemented immediately MP Abdul-Rahman Al-Jeeran said the government proved its seriousness in implementing economic reforms but that he cannot guarantee this will continue.
MP Mansour Al-Zufairi added the legislature stands with the citizens on the fuel price hike issue and the MPs have fulfilled their promise to the people of Kuwait who elected them. He said the Parliament will monitor the prices, calling on the commerce minister to do the same in order to curb the malpractices of greedy traders who take advantage of the fuel price hike.
Foreigners, who make up almost 70 percent of the Kuwait’s 4.3 million population, still pay the full price. The hike, ranging from about 40 to 80 percent depending on the type of fuel, went into effect on September 1 as part of reform measures to plug a budget deficit resulting from low oil prices. It was the first such increase since 1998.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff and Agencies