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Rethink it

Badrya Darwish

Badrya Darwish

Salaam Alyakum Mr Al-Awadhi and first of all Ramadan Mubarak insha’Allah to you and your family. Just the other day I was planning to write an article thanking you for pushing the government to pass a bill to stop the human trafficking and the greed of the recruitment agencies (who bring in thousands of workers for whatever labor we need - be it domestic helpers, laborers, drivers, etc.) because lately the greed has gone off the hat.

The fees became so high that it’s become a burden to all families in Kuwait. But then today you shocked me by your other plan which I wished you would have postponed discussing until at least after the generous month (Shahar Al-Mubarak) Ramadan.

In your proposal, you’re suggesting that the government should tax expats 5 percent on the money they send back home. You justified that by the great services we are offering expats while they are working for us here in Kuwait and saving a little money to send home to their families.

I would have agreed with you if you had suggested this in the 1980s when education was free for all expats and food and uniforms were also offered to expat students equally like our children. And also in the time when Kuwait used to offer free education, there was no health insurance issues. But as you are one of the most well informed about the situation of expats from A to Z as you dealt with it for many years in your role with the Immigration department. And you showed lots of dedication and mercy to be remembered by many people, by the way. But is it really fair to take 5 percent of the maid who works in my house 24 hours with a salary - even if it’s great, it won’t exceed KD 100.

Should we tax her 5 percent of what she sends to her family? Or is it fair to tax my driver who makes at least 20 trips a day starting from 6am till maybe midnight, if needed, regardless of the heat or the dust or weather situation. Is it fair to tax him five percent of the KD 130 I give to him at the end of the month? Don’t forget other drivers are earning much less than this. And if your suggestion is not for domestic helpers, that’s great. But also it has to fall under discussion and scrutiny.

I think you should look at how much income expatriates actually earn vs how much they spend in Kuwait. How much do they pay for the private schools - which are all owned by us? How much do they pay for their rent - which has soared beyond belief in the last 10 years. There are no more reasonably priced flats in Kuwait.

At least we, Kuwaitis are getting subsidy from the government against the high costs of rents. And plus, plus, plus many expenses. I don’t think we are giving free food, education, water or electricity. Yes there are some expats who earn high salaries but these are special experts with high qualifications and skills that we need and on top of that, they are very few in number. Go and tax these people.

But if you are talking about ordinary employees, I’m sorry Mr Al-Awadhi, that’s unacceptable. And don’t think for one moment that taxes won’t eventually be levied on us. You open that door and it’s a slippery slope. But as for your suggestion now on the 5 percent tax. Please contemplate on it more deeply, rethink about it during this holy month from all sides. We should debate the pluses and minuses even for us Kuwaitis, not only expats. Have a good evening and Ramadan Mubarak.

By Badrya Darwish

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This article was published on 15/06/2015