06 March 2016Panel, govt to meet Amir over subsidies
KUWAIT: The National Assembly's financial and economic affairs committee and the government failed to reach an agreement yesterday on new charges for electricity and water as MPs insisted the proposed government charges would impact Kuwaiti citizens. Minister of Electricity and Water Ahmad Al-Jassar said after the meeting that the proposed government reforms aim at convincing people to cut consumption rather than boosting revenues and hurting Kuwaiti citizens.
He said the aim of the meeting was to bridge the gap between the government and MPs on all the proposed consumption categories based on the type of residences. The minister said the ministry will submit final figures to the Assembly before the next session on March 15, adding that the ministry looks forward to submitting a comprehensive scheme that does not harm citizens, under which citizens who cut consumption will not pay any additional charges.
Last week, the ministry submitted proposals dividing residences to four groups with expatriates being targeted to pay the most. The categories include private houses - a term meaning mostly Kuwaitis - investment houses, a term that refers to buildings, a majority of which are inhabited by foreigners, and commercial and industrial users.
Current electricity charges are 2 fils per kilowatt for all purposes and uses. The ministry team proposed to raise the charges for investment houses (mostly expatriates) to be as follows: First 1,000 kilowatts: 5 fils per kilowatt; second 1,000 KW: 8 fils per kilowatt; third 1,000 KW: 10 fils per kilowatt. As for private houses (mostly Kuwaiti citizens), the proposed increases are as follows: First 3,000 KW: 3 fils per kilowatt; second 3,000 KW: 8 fils per kilowatt; third 3,000 KW: 10 fils per kilowatt. The ministry team also proposed to increase the charges for commercial use to 19 fils per kilowatt and leave it at 2 fils per kilowatt for industrial use.
Rapporteur of the committee MP Mohammad Al-Jabri said the differences between the government and MPs on the issue has not been resolved and more meetings are needed to select an appropriate mechanism for cutting consumption that does not impact citizens. He said the government proposed specific figures and MPs expressed their views when they felt the government figures could harm low and middle-income citizens.
The government has a plan to raise various electricity categories by a specific percentage and MPs are trying to reduce the hike to a level where it does not impact citizens, Jabri said. He said the committee and government ministers will meet HH the Amir today to discuss the issue but said he is unaware of the proposals that will be discussed during the meeting.
© Kuwait Times 2016