KUWAIT: Vehicles line up to be refueled at a gas station in Kuwait City on Monday. ñ Photo by Fouad Al-Shaikh KUWAIT: Vehicles line up to be refueled at a gas station in Kuwait City on Monday. - Photo by Fouad Al-Shaikh

KUWAIT: Lawmakers yesterday strongly lashed out at the government for raising the prices of petrol, saying they will not accept the hike and vowed to take measures. The criticism came after an urgent meeting called by Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem held at his office to discuss what the lawmakers described as a surprising government decision. The meeting was attended by 14 MPs. MP Mohammad Tana called on all MPs to cut short their summer vacations in order to hold an emergency meeting of the National Assembly, which is now on a three-month summer recess.

A number of MPs blamed the government for violating promises not to raise petrol prices and criticized it for making the raise while the Assembly was on summer vacation. Deputy Speaker Mubarak Al-Khrainej said MPs during the meeting reviewed steps that could be taken after the government decided to increase the prices of petrol in a surprising way and without consulting the Assembly.

Khrainej said the majority of lawmakers underscored that the decision will negatively affect the lives of citizens and expected it could have a negative financial impact on low- and middle-income people. He said the government breached a pledge it made in the Assembly that it will not raise the price of petrol unilaterally and before consulting the Assembly. Khrainej said the lawmakers will discuss at future meetings, which will be likely attended by the government, alternative measures to compensate citizens for the increase and alleviate its negative impact.

MP Saadoun Hammad criticized the government for rushing the decision and taking it without consulting the Assembly as it had pledged. He said that the decision is strange because the government is targeting people's pockets while forgetting other available sources like taxing state-owned plots in Shuwaikh. "The government also forgot to tax merchants and is taxing people," he charged.

MP Awdah Al-Awdah said lawmakers will not remain silent and will press for alternatives to compensate them which are satisfactory to all parties. MP Khalil Abul said that the decision was supposed to have been part of a package of economic reforms, but it was issued as a standalone one. MP Ali Al-Khamees said the meeting sent a message to the government that the Assembly is against the hike, adding that more meetings will be held to find adequate solutions. The Cabinet on Monday decided to hike petrol prices by over 83 percent from the start of September.

By B Izzak