KUWAIT CITY, Dec 24: Citizens and expatriates have rejected the recently proposed hike in health insurance fees from KD 50 to KD 130, arguing implementation of the proposal could lead many families to leave the country.
In an investigation report, a number of citizens; owners of investment buildings, foodstuffs centers, and private schools argued that they will be hurt economically if the expatriate families leave the country due to high cost of living, and their businesses will suffer since expatriates stimulate the local economy.
They reiterated the presence of expatriate families stimulate economy because the breadwinner is obliged to spend on his family in the country, whereas expatriates living alone would send the large part of their salary to the family outside Kuwait.
For his part, Husni Al-Sayyed said the current health insurance fees for expatriates is very high and burdens ordinary workforce, given that many of them rarely benefit from health insurance as presumed. Zaki Abdul-Ali indicated such decisions will complicate the lives of limited income families — as per expatriate definition.
For instance, a family of two parents and five children will have to pay KD 910 for health insurance annually, in addition to visa fees and other necessary charges for acquiring residency. Umm Muhammad wonders where the expatriate will get the funds for paying health insurance or school fees that keeps increasing in the private schools, besides the ever increasing prices of foodstuffs; thus “if Kuwait no longer wishes to see expatriate workers, it should say it without taking steps that render the category sleepless nights”, concluded Umm Muhammad.
Abu Muhammad, real estate manager argued that the proposed increase of health insurance from KD 50 to KD 130 might trigger the migration of expatriate families in their attempt to reduce the maintenance cost of residing country and their exodus will definitely affect citizens, especially owners of investment buildings. He added that more than 100,000 apartments are currently empty due to rapid increase in the cost of living.
Therefore, decisions to increase health insurance by almost KD 80 would trigger more people to send their families back to their home countries and live bachelor life, indicating their local expenditure will decrease significantly in all aspects and affect the economy negatively. “Apart from the health insurance proposal, there is electricity and water tariff increase that will come into effect in 2017. This would cause individuals to spend not less than KD 400 for a single room apartment”, indicated Abu Muhammad.
Legal consultant, Dr Ashraf Rawash pointed out that some decisions should consider the financial earnings of expatriate since the majority of workforce to suffer from the increment are those with limited income of KD 200. Dr Rawash added “there are many domains the State can use to generate revenue, such as taxation of expatriate businesspersons that earn millions of dinars annually and still pays for services the same as low income earners”.
The current labor consultant at Kuwait Society for Human Rights and former Chairperson of Expatriate Labor Office in Kuwait Labor Union, Abdul-Rahman Al-Ghanim pointed out that the decision to raise health insurance fees from KD 50 to KD 130 is totally not in line with human rights. Al-Ghanim added such decisions are unfair and they are taken without proper consideration as the cost of living goes up in the country every time and a significant number of expatriates are repatriating their families back to their home countries to cut cost. He reiterated the issue affects the local economy which many businesses depend on.
By Najeh Bilal Al-Seyassah / Arab Times staff