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Kuwait MPs call for abolishment of power, fuel price increases

Kuwait MPs call for abolishment of power, fuel price increases

New bills show resistance to a government austerity programme

A group of MPs in Kuwait are calling for the abolishment of fuel and power price increases introduced under the government’s austerity programme.

Five opposition lawmakers signed a draft law yesterday calling for the return to the original prices for fuel, electricity and water and the need for any future increases to require approval from the National Assembly, according to Kuwait Times.

The group, which includes Islamist MPs Mohammad Al-Mutair, Mohammad Hayef, Adel Al-Damkhi, Waleed Al-Tabtabaei and Abdullah Fahhad, said they would grill the country’s prime minister if the government opposes the bill.

Despite increases to water and electricity prices only applying to commercial shops, government offices and the homes of expats, MPs argue that Kuwaitis will be impacted by rises in inflation and living costs.

Mutair was cited by the publication as saying the group’s proposed bill would amend a 1995 law banning the government from raising prices for public services without assembly approval to include petrol and other fuels.

Separately another opposition MP group led by Riyadh Al-Adasani has plans to submit a draft law calling for petrol prices to be fixed at levels prior to an up to 80 per cent increase that took effect at the beginning of September, the publication said.

The weeks that followed the price hike saw MPs clash with the government, leading to the concession of a free fuel allowance for Kuwaitis.

Read: Kuwaitis to receive free fuel to compensate for price increase

However, this did not bring an end to the dispute and Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah opted to dissolve the parliament and call for fresh elections.

Read: Kuwait ruler dissolves parliament

Some speculate that the new parliament is on a similar collision course with the government after a strong showing from the opposition and anti-austerity candidates.

Read: Kuwaiti opposition wins big in parliamentary election

Emir Al-Sabah told MPs at the inaugural assembly session last month that austerity measures were inevitable to reduce Kuwait’s budget deficit.

Read: Kuwait’s Emir says austerity measures “inevitable”

“All have to realise that this is no time for political luxury, or making gains at the expense of Kuwait’s higher interests,” he said.

Despite this, the two bills are expected to pass with popular backing, according to the publication, and may be debated on January 10 during a special session to discuss the government’s economic reforms.

Kuwait ended 16 straight years of surpluses by posting a $15.3bn deficit for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016 due to the drop in oil prices.

In August it projected a $28.9bn deficit for the current fiscal year ending in April.

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