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Panel raises prices of water for apartments – MP calls for turning customs into independent body

KUWAIT: Head of the National Assembly’s financial and economic affairs committee MP Faisal Al-Shaye yesterday said the panel has amended the price of water for investment apartments and it will be debated by the Assembly along with electricity charges tomorrow. Shaye said under the new amendment, the price of the first 3,000 gallons of water will be KD 2, which increases to KD 3 for the second 3,000 gallons and to KD 4 for consumption above 6,000 gallons.

The new proposed charges apply only to apartments for both Kuwaitis and expatriates, the lawmaker said. Shaye explained that the draft law to raise electricity charges, to be debated by the Assembly tomorrow for the second and final vote, totally excludes all Kuwaiti citizens from the increase. He said the committee has made all necessary amendments to exempt Kuwaitis residing in private houses and apartments from the increase and will be subsequently applied to expatriates, in addition to commercial and agricultural sectors and government offices.

According to the draft law, the increases will be applied on expatriates only after 15 months of publishing the law in the official gazette unless the Assembly changes the dates. This means the electricity prices for expatriates will rise only in the second half of next year. Shaye strongly defended the Assembly’s action on a government charter outlining its vision on economic reform and boosting non-oil revenues in the face of the sharp drop in oil prices.

The Assembly debated the vision but did not vote on it, an action that was strongly criticized byseveral MPs. Shaye said that the Assembly is not required to vote on the plan because it only includes government programs and it will not be able to carry out any privatization without coming back to the Assembly for approval. He added that many of the programs included in the government vision need prior approval of the Assembly to implement.

In another development, MP Hamdan Al-Azemi called yesterday for transforming the customs department, which is currently a body under the finance ministry, into an independent authority similar to other GCC states. He said the department is ready to transform because it has 4,800 employees working at 11 exits who work almost independent of any ministry or department. He said creating an independent customs authority will boost its work to international levels, and demanded that some pay allowances should be given to customs employees.

MP Khalil Abul yesterday called for creating an independent addiction center separate from the psychiatric hospital, saying that having the addiction center inside the hospital has resulted in a number of negative impacts.

By B Izzak

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