MP Osama Al-Shaheen

KUWAIT: Islamist opposition MP Osama Al-Shaheen criticized the government's policy aimed at dealing with the demographic imbalance and called for reducing the number of expatriate students in public schools as part of the solution. He said reforming the demographic imbalance in the country requires a strong will by the government and this will is not there. Shaheen said based on official statistics in April, the number of expatriates reached 3.054 million, or 69.5 percent of the population. Kuwaitis number about 1.35 million, just 30.5 percent.

The lawmaker said there are 71,000 teachers in the country including 46,000 Kuwaiti teachers, which means that there are 25,000 Arab and foreign teachers, adding that some of these jobs should be given to Kuwaitis. According to education ministry statistics, about 51,400 expatriate students are studying in public schools, with each student costing the government nearly KD 5,000. This amounts to KD 253.6 million being spent on the education of non-Kuwaitis.

Expat students are in general not allowed to join public schools, but the ministry has exempted several categories, who include children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis, children of diplomats and others. Shaheen demanded that the exemptions should be reviewed to reduce the number of foreign students in public schools.

MP Askar Al-Enezi yesterday submitted an amendment to the residency law stipulating that those who give shelter or employ runaway domestic helpers should be forced to pay the costs of their deportation from the country. The lawmaker said that the number of domestic helpers fleeing their employers has been on the increase recently, negatively impacting employers. He said that many people have given shelter and even employment to these runaway domestic helpers, which is a clear violation of the law. As a result, he proposed that people who employ runaway domestic helpers should pay the costs of sending the domestic helpers back to their homelands.

Supervisor of the National Assembly MP Nayef Al-Merdas said yesterday that the issue of providing allowances to retired servicemen will be debated in the assembly next session on May 23. Meanwhile, MP Safaa Al-Hashem asked Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh about a previously unannounced contract to develop the ministry's taxation department and prepare the legal foundations for value added tax and other selective taxes. She said if the issue is correct, she demanded the details of the reported studies about the taxes. She also asked if VAT is mentioned in the national reform plan.



By B Izzak