SUBSIDY, ALLOWANCE CUTS EYED ON HEELS OF HISTORIC DEFICIT
KUWAIT CITY, Aug 10: There is a looming possibility that direct commercial flights will be resumed with a number of countries that were banned for a long time as part of the preventive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 virus. This move is in line with the improvement of the epidemiological situation in the country, according to the recent indicators announced by the Ministry of Health, particularly after recording the highest decline rate of COVID-19 infections since the beginning of this year and the acceleration of the vaccination campaign. According to an informed source, the Cabinet, during its meeting scheduled next Monday, will discuss a recommendation for the resumption of direct flights with Egypt and other Arab countries.
The expected development comes in the context of preparations for the start of the new academic year in all stages, and the possibilities of resuming the traditional education system in schools, as well as the need for Egyptian teachers, and the presence of large numbers of Kuwaiti students studying in Egyptian universities. The source expects the resumption of flights to begin with one trip per day from Cairo, which will increase at a later time depending on the developments on the ground. He stressed that those arriving via these flights will be subject to all health requirements and measures established in this regard without any exceptions.
The source indicated that the Cabinet will also discuss opening land ports with neighboring countries around the clock starting from September 1. He ruled out addressing the file of the return of domestic workers, pending the improvement of the epidemiological situation in India and Bangladesh. The source highlighted the anticipated achievement of community immunity by October. Meanwhile, he revealed that the Minister of Health Sheikh Dr. Basil Al-Sabah informed those close to him that he does not intend to continue in the government, and will leave his position before the start of the next term of the National Assembly. In addition, the Kuwait Airways Corporation announced the launch of flights to a number of destinations.
Chairman of the Board of Directors Ali Al-Dukhan affirmed that the all operational and support sectors of the company are fully prepared to gradually resume the operation of direct flights to and from Kuwait, and is ready to increase the operational and passenger capacity. The Ministry of Finance recently announced the biggest budget deficit in the history of the country — KD10.8 billion for the last fiscal year, reports Al-Rai daily. This announcement led to the resumption of talks on reducing government support. Sources told the daily that the Cabinet’s Economic Committee recently discussed ways to reduce subsidies; while a number of scenarios related to supply, commodities, electricity and fuel were reviewed, and the State’s collection of rent and other fees related to industrial plots in Shuwaikh and chalets was tackled.
According to results of the open preliminary discussion in this regard, the targeted reduction of the cost of living allowance and support provided by the State is estimated at KD2 billion — about 50 percent of the total support that the government provided in the last fiscal year amounting to KD3.737 billion. Sources revealed there is a set of proposals related to each support file. At the level of supply; the proposal is to remove people whose salaries are KD3,000 and above from the list of ration card beneficiaries including the head of the family and its members. By Khaled Al-Hajri Al-Seyassah, Arab Times Staff and Agencies