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Expat residents may have to shell fees for using public services

The government in Kuwait has submitted draft law that proposes increasing fees collected from expat residents for using public services in Kuwait, a senior state official said.

The Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah said that the proposal is now under review, primarily to ensure that it was in-line with the constitution.

The state pays KD6bn to subsidize public services, which includes water and electricity, while only KD2bn of it is the average share of Kuwaitis, he pointed when addressing a gathering of third constituency women voters at MP Ahmad Al-Mulafi's dewaniya early this week.

According to him, the remaining KD4bn cost is what the government has been bearing for service used by expats, which is a burden on the state.

Al-Sabah, who is also the State Minister for Municipality Affairs, said that similar measures have been adopted by the GCC States to increase the state revenue from expats. However, unfortunately, Kuwaiti law prohibits government from raising fees unilaterally, he said.

This statement by the Minister is the latest in the government’s efforts targeting the country’s expatriate community, which comprises two-thirds of the population of the State. This is, in addition to the recent announcement by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour to deport 100,000 foreigners annually from Kuwait, as part of demographic balance restoration plan.

Meanwhile, the Undersecretary Assistant for Traffic Affairs in the Interior Ministry, Maj. Gen. Abdulfattah Al-Ali announced that 213 expats were deported in the past few days for committing ‘grave’ traffic violations.

The government, through its annual deportation plan hopes to deport a million foreigners in ten years, and primarily plans to target marginal labour forces or workers who usually accept menial jobs and often live without valid visas, said Thekra Al-Rashidi, the Social Affairs and Labour Minister.

The Social Affairs and Interior Ministries are studying the possibility of creating amnesty period during the summer to allow illegal residents to leave Kuwait or obtain fresh visas without having to pay the cumulative fines.

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