The financial and economic affairs committee of Kuwait’s National Assembly yesterday approved a draft bill calling for increases to utility and fuel prices to be scrapped, according to reports.
Kuwait Times cited the leader of the panel, MP Safaa Al-Hashem, as saying it had passed a joint draft law stating that increases to public fees and commodities could not be applied without a law from the assembly.
The new draft laws also calls for a law increasing electricity and water prices passed by the country’s previous assembly parliament to be scrapped along with the increase to fuel prices introduced in September.
The parliament will now need to decide whether to approve the committee’s decision, but it is expected to do so due to the large number of lawmakers opposed to price increases.
Kuwait Times said the issue would likely be debated in the first week of March.
The government has the power to reject laws passed by the assembly but MPs can then override rejections with a majority vote backed by two thirds of the assembly.
Many candidates in the county’s November elections ran on an anti austerity ticket after the previous parliament was dissolved due to disputes with the government over the fuel price increase.
May increases to electricity and water prices will be applied to expats and businesses only but MPs are concerned that they will result in rising inflation and a higher cost of living in the country.
Hydrocarbon-dependent Kuwait ended 16 years of surpluses in its 2015 fiscal year after posting a budget shortfall of $15.3bn due to the decrease in oil prices. It has since sought to introduce fee increases and cuts to subsidies to lessen the deficit.
The country is expected to post a budget deficit of $25.9bn for its next fiscal year, beginning in April, after predicting a $28.9bn deficit in fiscal 2016.