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Hashem welcomes 100% hike in expatriate maternity charges

Fadhl: No govt plan for taxes – Tabtabaei warns MoI after police officer insulted

KUWAIT: MP Safa Al-Hashem yesterday welcomed a decision by the health ministry to increase by 100 percent charges expatriate women have to pay at maternity hospitals, saying the new raise will regulate the service. Hashem, who has been pressing the government to increase charges on expatriates, said the decision will greatly benefit operations at maternity hospitals run by the health ministry. She praised the health minister for accepting some of her proposals that call for imposing a raft of charges on expatriates, whom she blames for disruption of main services in the country.

The health ministry announced yesterday that it has decided to increase maternity charges for expatriate women from KD 50 to KD 100 for natural delivery and KD 150 for caesarean delivery (C-section), saying the decision came after a thorough study. The raise is effective immediately. The ministry said that unlike before, expat women will also have to pay for their stay at hospitals, which is KD 10 daily in wards, raising at the same time charges for private rooms at maternity hospitals from KD 50 to KD 100 per day.

The ministry of health has been regularly increasing medical charges at public hospitals, following last year’s major increase in most medical charges. On top of that, expats are required to pay KD 50 annually in health insurance as a prerequisite for a residence permit. Hashem also claimed that expatriate doctors at Farwaniya and Adan hospitals favor expat patients ahead of Kuwaitis and urged the health minister to stop such practices. The lawmaker called on authorities to continue their fight against visa traders and “residency mafias”, whom she blamed for distorting the demographic structure in Kuwait, where 3.3 million expats live against 1.4 million native Kuwaitis.

Meanwhile, a proposal recently made by Hashem on violations mandating expats’ deportation was referred to relevant parliamentary committees, said parliamentary sources, noting however that the time remaining in the new Assembly term might not be enough to discuss them. The sources added that some of the points mentioned in Hashem’s proposal are already being implemented, such as deporting expats with expired residency visas, those working for employers other than their sponsors and those whose jobs in their work permit do not match what they actually do.

Further, the sources said that manpower authority will soon start taking measures leading up to deportation against expat violators, including those Hashem referred to, such as elderly laborers and teachers and staff members working in private schools other than their sponsors. “Deportation will also include the deportee’s family members,” the sources stressed. However, the sources said limiting expats’ residency in Kuwait to five years renewable once for a maximum of five more years is an impractical proposal as it would lead to losing well-experienced and trained workers.

In another development, MP Ahmad Al-Fadhl yesterday denied a newspaper report that the finance ministry has completed plans to impose taxes and charges on many public services. The lawmaker said he contacted officials at the ministry, who said apart from two laws imposing value added tax (VAT) and selective taxes on cigarettes and energy and soft drinks, the ministry has no plans to impose any other taxes. Fadhl however said the finance minister had informed the National Assembly that the country’s fiscal position has been deteriorating and that in the best-case scenario, the state’s reserve fund will run out of money by 2023 and Kuwait will only be left with assets in the future generations fund.

In the meantime, MP Omar Al-Tabtabei yesterday warned the interior ministry against taking any action against a senior officer at the ministry following a standoff with a member of the ruling family. Head of the traffic licenses department Maj Salah Al-Rashed posted on social media a phone conversation in which the ruling family member insulted him and warned him of disciplinary action after he refused to accept an illegal transaction to renew registration of vehicles the sheikh owns. Tabtabaei warned that if the ministry harms the officer, he will use his constitutional tools.
Later yesterday, Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah ordered filing a case against the ruling family member and prosecuting him for insulting a police officer on duty. The interior ministry noted on its Twitter account that it is investigating the audio circulating on social media, adding it reserves the right to take all legal actions in such cases. Notably, the accused sheikh had been previously imprisoned for two years for slandering HH the Amir before he apologized and was released.

By B Izzak

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