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Govt submits subsidy study to MPs – Overseas treatment cut decision ‘frozen’

KUWAIT: The government yesterday submitted to the National Assembly a study on economic reforms including proposals to cut subsidies on petrol, electricity and water, but no decision was taken as more meetings have been set for further details. Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh said yesterday’s meeting between MPs and ministers was comprehensive and focused on measures that would reform the path of the national economy.

The government’s paper consists of six main issues and the study prepared by foreign consultants on subsidies, especially on electricity, the minister said. Saleh said that it was agreed to hold another meeting on Tuesday with a team from the ministry of electricity and water to provide answers to queries by lawmakers. Another meeting will be held on Feb 28 in which the government will submit its comprehensive short-term measures for economic reforms, the minister said. Saleh said that he sensed understanding on part of MPs for the need to forge ahead with economic reforms, adding that reforms have a cost and if they are delayed, the cost will be much higher.

MP Abdullah Al-Tameemi however said that the government’s presentation yesterday was very confusing, adding there can be no reforms amid rife corruption and weak government administration. He also said that there were some mistakes in statistics provided by the government on electricity consumption.

MP Abdulhameed Dashti said that during the meeting, the government told MPs that the decision to cut the cost of medical treatment for Kuwaitis abroad has been frozen until it is discussed with the Assembly as part of the reforms and spending cut measures. MP Askar Al-Enezi said that during the meeting, MPs asked the government to suspend the implementation of the medical treatment decision and the government agreed. He said he is confident that the prime minister will take every care not to undermine the rights of citizens for medical care and that the decision to cut allocations will be carefully assessed.
Head of the economic consultative committee at the planning council Nasser Al-Roudhan, who attended the meeting, said the committee stressed that tackling the economic situation should come through privatizing public services with strong government monitoring through the so-called golden share rule.

National Assembly speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem said the Assembly and the government will not shy away from tackling the economic issue and the treatment is aimed at achieving a bright future for the country. He stressed for the need to design a national project for tackling economic imbalances and if there is a need to issue legislation, the Assembly has no objection.
Ghanem also urged the government to review its decision on the reduction of allocations for medical treatment abroad in a way that should not affect patients. Ghanem told reporters that he agrees on reducing spending in different sectors, including overseas medical treatment, through sound rules that should not affect those who deserve it.

By B Izzak

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