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Uproar over ‘exaggerated’ prices

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KUWAIT CITY, May 30: The remarkable increase in the prices of building materials turned into a political accountability project for Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr Abdullah Al-Salman after the members of Parliament described the price hike as “exaggerated, unjustified and artificial;” attributing this to the absence of oversight while urging the minister to hold accountable all those behind such manipulation of prices, reports Al-Rai daily quoting sources. Sources said the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has instructed the importers of major construction materials to increase the import rates for these products in view of the expected construction boom in the country.

Sources pointed out that as an incentive, the ministry intends to approve certain perks for importers, such as customs tariff exemptions and reductions of fees to guarantee fair competition. Sources added the ministry requested for intensified inspection campaigns in establishments selling construction materials to prevent the unjustified price hike. Sources revealed that preliminary data showed some traders took advantage of the recent increase in the prices of certain commodities by hoarding their items and then selling them at higher prices.

The daily’s team visited some construction material shops where they noticed increase in the prices of iron, brick, cement, glass, wood, aluminum, dye, sanitary materials and others. Construction companies said the cost of building a structure with three floors and a basement has increased from KD18,000 to KD26,000. Sources went on to say that the ministry is studying a proposal for the State to bear the difference in the prices of main construction materials for the establishment of new residential areas, specifically in Mutla’a and South Abdullah Al-Mubarak.

Meanwhile, Minister of Oil and Higher Education Dr Muhammad Al-Faris set 85 percent as the minimum mark for Kuwaiti high school graduates to study various medical specializations in accredited Egyptian universities whether under scholarship or not; while the current minimum mark is 79 percent in different human medicine fields, dentistry and pharmacy, reports Al-Qabas daily. In a statement to the daily, Al-Faris disclosed the decision aims to support ongoing efforts to produce the best medical graduates and provide highly qualified national medical professionals to the local health sector. He affirmed the abovementioned minimum mark is the lowest among the Gulf countries and it matches the requirement of Egyptian universities. He said the Ministry of Higher Education is fully aware of the importance of providing national medical professionals to the local health sector, so it is keen on supporting students pursuing medical specializations in various accredited universities.

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