KUWAIT CITY, March 5, (Agencies): Planned economic reforms aim to rationalize spending, and are not an attempt by the government to levy taxes on the people, Minister of Electricity and Water Ahmad Al- Jassar said on Saturday.
In a press statement after attending a meeting of the parliamentary committee on fi nancial and economic affairs, Al-Jassar said “the aim is to implement strategies that would reduce spending.” “We seek to come up with a comprehensive plan that would not be detrimental to citizens, and where consumption will not exceed average levels,” Al-Jassar noted.
Moreover, Al-Jassar also revealed plans of “new electricity tariffs”, saying that the government will fi nalize prices of electricity in a forthcoming parliamentary session due in two weeks.
In a statement to journalists, MP Mohammad Al-Jabry said that the committee will hold future meetings with the government to ensure a concerted viewpoint as it relates to spending rationalization plans, where those with low incomes will not be affected. “There are government subsidies that number in the millions, and they will be diminished to some extent, in line with spending rationalization plans,” Al-Jabry added.
He also stressed that the underlying aim is “that those with low incomes will not be adversely affected.” Earlier on Saturday, National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim chaired a meeting of the parliamentary committee on financial and economic affairs, with several MPs, ministers and officials attending. The meeting focused on issues pertinent to current economic conditions in the country, and how to redress the State’s budget deficit. Chairperson of the parliamentary Financial and Economic Affairs Committee MP Faisal Al-Shaya has affirmed that the National Assembly is keen on rectifying the current economic situation provided the solutions will not affect citizens with limited and moderate incomes, reports Al-Rai daily.
He affirmed that there are various models with regard to the smart metering system for electricity, and so far, the matter is still under deliberation in a bid to determine the best metering system to use. He reassured there is consensus on the importance of reducing cost of electricity consumption on condition that it will not be expensive for the citizens. Concerning expatriates, he affirmed they will not be affected so much while everyone will bear the cost for addressing the issue.
Talking about fuel, he pointed out there is a possibility that citizens with a driving license will be given several liters of petrol. It was previously announced that the plan is to grant 220 liters per month, although the smart metering system will involve everyone. About the next meeting, he disclosed the government has presented a proposal to amend Article 16 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Law in order to grant financial independence to the financial inquiry unit by allocating its budget which will be supplementary.
In general, the amendment does not affect the law as it will only give the financial inquiry unit autonomy in performing its duties. Meanwhile, Chairperson of the Women and Family Affairs Committee MP Saleh Al-Ashour revealed they will meet on Monday to deliberate on issues related to the children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis. He said a meeting has been scheduled to discuss issues pertaining to the Health Ministry. “We will request the government to exempt children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis from paying for x-rays, private rooms and other hospital charges,” he revealed. He also unveiled a plan to ask the State Ministry for Housing Affairs to look into the requirements of the previous committee regarding the housing welfare for Kuwaiti women and increase the housing loan for them to be equal to their male compatriots. He went on to say, “So far, we have not received any response on those issues”.
On the other hand, Chairperson of the Priorities Committee MP Dr Yusuf Al- Zalzalah explained Dasma Cooperative Society was not privatized as it merely sought the advice of some experts “because we are tired of violations committed by the Cooperative Societies Department.”