KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti economist yesterday pooh-poohed suggestions by MPs to eliminate subsides from expats to avoid an expected budget deficit in 2021. MP Jamal Al-Omar has suggested that removing subsidies from goods and services such as energy and fuel could help the state save some KD 7 billion.
However, economist Hajjaj Abu Khudoor said the proposal is weak and is floated by some politicians to please their constituencies. “They do not want to antagonize their voters, so they can only target expatriates because they cannot vote.
The proposal is nothing but a parade of weak propaganda arguments,” Abu Khudoor noted.
Some MPs also suggested that since the impending budget deficit is unavoidable, the government has to cut subsidies on services sooner rather than later. “The government has always been moving in the wrong direction.
People who are proposing cutting subsidies for expats are talking nonsense. They just target expatriates and cannot suggest beneficial proposals for everyone,” he said. Abu Khudoor urged MPs to propose solid proposals to address the country’s problems. “Bills and laws should be for the greater good of everyone, not just for some. They cannot deliver development without focus,” he asserted. “The country needs to focus on the real problem, to make a plan, strategize and come up with the proper laws to overcome any deficit.
If they want our country to be great economically, they should protect investments and invest in the country’s development and our country’s future,” he mentioned. “The government has a plan, but it never materialized because they have been busy politicking,” he said.
Other MPs also proposed to cut electricity and water subsidies for expats, which was rubbished by Abu Khudoor. “Some expats for example are crammed 15 to a room, and most of the day they are outside for work,” he argued, recommending amending building specifications in order to cut electricity and water consumption.
A Kuwaiti banker said expatriates will not stay in Kuwait for more than a year if subsidies are removed, especially since most expats make less than KD 250 a month. “The government should really study the proposal properly. Expats are working for the betterment of their families, and if they feel they are not getting what they want financially, they’ll look for greener pastures.
The move will surely have a domino effect on us Kuwaitis too.
The price of basic services and necessities in Kuwait will increase, food prices will rise and rents will skyrocket. Expats will no longer stay here for years – they’ll leave us, and business will be doomed,” he warned. MPs want to cut subsidies for expats to provide Kuwaitis with additional financial allocations, like increased children and rent allowances.
By Ben Garcia
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