Assembly panel to discuss power rates next Sunday – MPs debate report on KIA offices, take no decision

KUWAIT: The Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and Minister of State for Planning and Development Affairs Hind Al-Subaih (center) is pictured with some Kuwait MPs during the parliamentary session yesterday. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: The Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and Minister of State for Planning and Development Affairs Hind Al-Subaih (center) is pictured with some Kuwait MPs during the parliamentary session yesterday. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Head of the National Assembly Financial and Economic Affairs Committee MP Faisal A-Shaye said yesterday the panel received a government draft law stipulating increases to electricity charges. Shaye said the committee will meet on Sunday to study the bill but expected that major changes will be made to the bill to reduce the proposed increases to electricity and water charges. The draft law, which was approved by the cabinet on Monday, stipulates to raise electricity charges on the basis of consumption by several folds. It divides the proposed charges for expatriates and citizens.

For private houses (normally inhabited by Kuwaitis), the bill proposes to raise current electricity charges of 2 fils per kilowatt to as follows: For consumption of up to 3,000 kilowatts – 5 fils per kilowatt; For consumption of between 3,000 – 6,000 – 8 fils per kilowatt; For consumption between 6,000-9,000 – 10 fils per kilowatt; For consumption above 9,000 – 15 fils per kilowatt; As for apartments (normally refers to expatriate), the new proposed rates are as follow; For consumption of up to 1,000 kilowatt – 5 fils per kilowatt; For consumption between 1,000-2,000 – 10 fils per kilowatt; For consumption above 2,000 kilowatt – 15 fils per kilowatt. The bill also proposes smaller increases to water charges.

Shaye said the bill is the government viewpoint and the committee will change the rates to keep consumption of up to 6,000 kilowatts unchanged, adding that the idea of the bill should be to rationalize consumption and not to collect funds. He said MPs will present a substitute proposal that includes major cuts to government proposed rates. Shaye expected the committee to complete studying the government bill on Sunday and is likely to hold a meeting on next Wednesday to approve the government-sponsored economic reforms.

It was not clear if the committee’s planned cuts would also include apartments. In the Assembly session yesterday, the Assembly debated in a secret session two investigation reports about Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), the first about its offices in London and elsewhere and the second about an Audit Bureau report on KIA controversial sale of real estate abroad. Following the debate, Speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem said the Assembly decided to refer the two reports to the government by a slim majority of 21 out of 41 members present.

The recommendations attached to the two reports call to refer top officials at KIA to the Public Prosecution for a possible legal action. Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh, who demanded the two reports be discussed in a closed session, said he saw no aggression on public funds in the two reports. He added the government will study the report, and if it finds any violation, it will form a neutral probe committee. The probe in KIA offices abroad was launched after accusations of violations and mismanagement.

The Assembly yesterday refused to approve amendments to the key tender law and instead returned the report to the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee to review the law once again to include all required amendments. MPs particularly objected to a provision in the law giving the right to listed contracting firms to bid in contracts worth above KD 20 million. They insisted that all companies, including foreign firms, should be allowed to bid. The committee was given two months to study the amendments.

This article was published on 30/03/2016