Kuwait eyeing taxation system • Muwaizri likens Assembly to KGB

Adnan Abdulsamad and MP Safaa Al-Hashem

KUWAIT: Prominent lawmaker Adnan Abdulsamad yesterday strongly defended expatriates living and working in the country and rejected a campaign targeting them, insisting that they are here because Kuwaiti companies brought them to serve the country. Speaking during a debate on the Amiri speech in the Assembly, the lawmaker said it was strange to see a campaign targeting expatriates, adding that “they only came here at the wish of those who recruited them – citizens, the government and companies”. He added that there are jobs that “only expatriates can do” and called on all to respect them.

MP Safaa Al-Hashem, who has been highly critical of expatriates, said she has never undermined the dignity of expatriates but always aimed at rectifying the huge imbalance in the demographic structure. She said that there are many “marginal” expatriate laborers in the country who have “exhausted” public services and infrastructure.

Responding to Hashem, Abdulsamad said that he did not mean to target her, but was referring to what is being said at diwaniyas against expatriates and some instances of harassment against them. The two lawmakers called on authorities to fight against the so-called visa traders who exploit expatriate workers by taking large fees from them to issue visas but without giving them any work. Kuwait is home to over three million expatriates and around 1.4 million citizens, prompting some MPs and activists to call for the Kuwaitization of jobs in the government.

During the session, several lawmakers clashed over a decision by the legal and legislative committee to lift the immunity of Islamist MP Mohammad Hayef over comments on Twitter. Several MPs accused the committee of not being neutral because in the tweet, Hayef did not mention any names. The Assembly then voted to reject the recommendation to lift his immunity.
MP Riyadh Al-Adasani criticized the government for hiking the prices of petrol and other services, saying such increases negatively impact both citizens and expatriates. He said MPs will oppose any government move to impose taxes or increase the cost of public services because the burden of such measures will fall on the people. He said he will oppose the privatization of health, education and the oil sectors.

Notably, Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development Khaled Mahdi yesterday said state revenues come from natural resources and investments, adding that Kuwait is on the verge of imposing a taxation system with the aim of improving public services. Mahdi added that a number of the development plan projects have been completed, while others are still under construction. “Finished projects were launched in 2018 include Jaber Hospital, Terminal 4 and Jahra Hospital,” he explained, noting that some projects have been rescheduled.

After the session, leading opposition MP Shuaib Al-Muwaizri, who on Tuesday clashed with Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem, criticized the way the speaker manages sessions. Muwaizri claimed that the Assembly has become like the Soviet KGB and alleged some MPs were being spied on. The next Assembly session will be held on Jan 30.

By B Izzak and A Saleh