Lawmaker urges minister to fine firms over roads

KUWAIT: The National Assembly holds a regular session tomorrow after a long pause because of the national holidays and is expected to discuss a draft law to impose health charges on foreigners who visit the country, in addition to other issues. The Assembly will also debate a draft law on health insurance, besides amendments to the anti-corruption law and others.

The draft law obliges foreigners who arrive in Kuwait on short visits or those who obtain temporary residence permits to obtain health insurance covering their duration of stay in the country. The bill, which was presented and approved by the health committee over two years ago, also stipulates that the interior ministry will not issue a visit visa or a temporary residence until applicants present such health insurance.

The committee report states that the bill aims at plugging a loophole in the health insurance law of 1999 that requires only expatriates with permanent residence in Kuwait to obtain health insurance. The health ministry sharply increased charges on medical services provided to expatriates in late 2017 and MPs recently warned Health Minister Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah against reconsidering the charges, which many consider too steep. Sheikh Basel had said he plans to restudy the charges imposed in Oct 2017, hinting at a possible reduction of some charges. But several MPs warned they will question him if he does so. Nothing has happened since then.

MP Saleh Ashour yesterday urged Minister of Public Works Jenan Bushehri to use financial guarantees submitted by contractors who were involved in road projects in the country. The ministry had said that roads which were severely affected by heavy rains throughout this exceptionally rainy season will be repaired once sufficient budgets are prepared for them. But the lawmaker criticized the minister over the statement, saying that she should instead use financial guarantees of those companies because of their bad work. Ashour also said the minister should use the fines imposed by the ministry on those contractors.

The Assembly's financial and economic affairs committee yesterday criticized a draft law for commercial insurance submitted by the government. Head of the committee MP Salah Khorshid said the committee discussed the bill with representatives of the ministry of commerce and objected to a proposal to set up an independent authority for insurance. The lawmaker said that it was the government that wanted the Assembly to reduce the number of public authorities and agencies, and now it is the commerce ministry which is proposing a special authority for insurance. But Khorshid said the commerce ministry agreed to scrap this provision and said it will find an alternative for the proposed independent authority.

By B Izzak