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Experts express anger over IMF proposal to rectify budget deficit

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KUWAIT CITY, Sept 23: Academics and politicians have expressed resentment on the economic reform procedures the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has proposed to rectify the deficit in Kuwait’s general budget, adding “any idea to lift subsidies from the basic commodities such as water, electricity, and petrol is out of the question”.

They are of the view that it is possible to apply the IMF recommendation gradually provided that government will take the first step to apply the decision on itself. They explained that government has many opportunities to cut down its expenditure to curb budget deficit instead of lifting subsidy from the basic commodities.

Former parliamentary candidate Dr Khalda Al-Kheder says she’s proud of Kuwait because “we enjoy subsidies on water, electricity, petrol and other substances. Therefore, the prices of many commodities will go up if subsidy is lifted, and it will have negative influence on the standard of living of citizens and expatriates”. She noted the political situation here is already tense and “it’s unnecessary to flare it up with prices hike”. She explained that the country can control its expenditure in many ways, among them reducing external donations.

For her part, Dr Hanan Al- Saeed said a large segment of Kuwaitis live on limited income; thus, it’s totally unacceptable to touch their income by lifting subsidy from the strategic commodities in particular. She noted decisions of this nature must be preceded by public dialogue to assess the opinions of citizens before implementing ideas that affect the daily life.

Former MP Raja Al-Hajelan in principle refused IMF’s interference in Kuwait’s internal affairs, considering the international financial institution is among the many forms of colonization. He wondered IMF’s relationship with a country that craves to provide more luxury and stability for its people. He added IMF has different approach to different nations and holds contradicting stances in its dealings with rich and poor countries. She stressed Kuwait plays unique role in subsidizing basic commodities for its citizens and deserves appreciation for the initiative — unlike other rich countries that shuns from such responsibility.

Meanwhile, a legal expert confirmed that the decision to suspend government’s subsidy for citizens working in private sector is illegitimate even if they declined to update their data, reports Al-Qabas daily. He stressed the decision may cause the country thousands of dinars if concerned citizens file petitions against the Government Manpower and Restructuring Program (GMRP), indicating the government will be obliged to compensate them. He noted Cabinet’s decision no. 613/2015 regarding social allowance and children allowance for employees working in private sector does not deprive citizens registered in the program of their right but obliges them to modify their status and update data. Therefore, the law does not prevent citizens in question from receiving subsidy.

By Bassam Al-Qassas Al-Seyassah Staff

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