Muna Al Fuzai
Muna Al Fuzai

Despite government assurances to keep electricity and water rates affordable, the Minister of Finance confirmed this week an approved plan to raise all the rates. The Cabinet’s approval to raise electricity and water prices has garnered a lot of disapproval from the public.

This decision is now a matter of concern by all due to the large increase in rates and it will be implemented on everyone – Kuwaitis and expats. Now as far as I know most expats are living in flats owned by Kuwaitis so I would assume that the increases will result in higher rental prices. Kuwaiti owners will no doubt pass the hike on to their renters by raising the apartment rental fees. Imagine how devastating this can be. We all know how unfairly high rents are in Kuwait already.

To prevent citizens from too staunchly opposing this plan, the government may set up a subsidy system whereby Kuwaiti citizens are granted an extra allowance to cover the cost of the electricity and water hikes. Not only will this add to the government budget but then it again unfairly targets expats to carry the burden of the financial increases by themselves.

The government justification is that, according to World Bank estimates, there is an enormous amount of waste in electricity and water usage in Kuwait. If that is the case, I wonder why no one suggested to start with controlling the waste made by government departments? We all can see how much water and electricity they waste on a daily basis.

All official statements had confirmed that low income citizens will not be affected by the rise in prices. This is surprising for several reasons: First, what exactly is the government’s definition of low income people? And how they are being categorized? Are they the families with a monthly income that is less than KD 1,000? And how does the government calculate income?

According to initial statements, consumers will be divided into seven categories, according to consumption. And the government will keep the current prices for the first category that use less than 50 kilowatts per month.

I surely agree that we must rationalize spending and control waste in state budgets, expenditures and in all government bodies for once and for all. But the government should take a lot of steps to control its expenses first without making the people, Kuwaitis and expats, as a victim of its accumulated errors.

By Muna Al-Fuzai