Kuwait allocates $1bn to cover overseas treatment costs

The government had originally approved a $500m budget for the treatment abroad programme



Kuwait’s government has reportedly approved a special budget estimated at KD320m ($1.06bn) to pay overdue hospital bills for citizens as part of its overseas treatment programme.

Sources told Kuwait Times that the budget was designed to protect the country’s reputation with foreign hospitals after warnings that several could resort to legal action over KD150m ($497.9m) of unpaid dues.

The country’s foreign and health ministries are said to be at odds over the programme’s payments, resulting in delays to the compensation of European and American hospitals.

The sources said 11 financial controllers will also be questioned over accusations of irregularities in the treatment abroad programmme after the finance ministry accused the health ministry of mismanagement.

Kuwait spent KD300m ($995.8m) for treatment of citizens abroad between January 1 and August 15, according to local reports.

This is despite the government approving a KD150m budget for treatment abroad for the 2016/2017 fiscal year as part of austerity measures.

The government spent KD550m ($1.82bn) on the programme last year with 12,000 citizens sent abroad for treatment, according to local publication Al-Qabas.

In June, the government said it would run a $27bn budget deficit for the fiscal year beginning on April 1.

Read: Kuwait parliament approves budget with $27bn deficit