GCC states look to export extra generated electricity to Europe

Bidding extended for retired citizens’ health insurance program

KUWAIT: The Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) CEO Ahmad Al-Ibrahim said the GCC grid had an extra 60,000 megawatts of electricity during the winter, noting that GCC states are working on exporting the extra power to European countries as soon as interconnection is made between Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. Ibrahim added that the final decision on this project will be made by 2020, when the related studies are completed. He noted that a memorandum of understanding had been signed on interconnecting Europe and Africa through Egypt.

Separately, Oil Minister and Minister of Electricity and Water Khaled Al-Fadhel discussed during a recent meeting with Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW) undersecretary Mohammed Bushehri and assistant undersecretaries the possibility of changing the name of the electrical distribution grid sector’s ‘technical control department’ to ‘power efficiency department’ to work on rationalizing power consumption in the industrial sector and other sectors. In this regard, informed sources said that Fadhel urged MEW’s planning and training sector to prepare a full study about the proposal. The sources also noted that Fadhel asked to accelerate the procedures related to executing the renewable energy projects to reach the target set by HH the Amir to provide 15 percent of the needed power from those sources by 2030.

Health insurance tender
The Central Agency for Public Tenders (CAPT) extended the deadline to file bids for a tender to provide health insurance services for retired citizens (Afya) till Feb 12 instead of Jan 29, well-informed sources said. Notably, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has extended the tender’s deadline five times and increased the retired citizens’ health insurance installment from KD 780 to KD 800 for each of the 134,000 retired citizens. The sources said two listed companies – Gulf Insurance Company (GIC) and Al-Ahleia Insurance Company – are competing over the tender after Warba Insurance Company withdrew. The sources also noted that MOH increased the bank guarantee for the tender from KD 10 million to KD 30 million, which is beyond the financial capabilities of most insurance companies operating in the local market.

Domestic helpers
The Public Authority for Manpower is now ready to take the domestic helpers department under its jurisdiction by the beginning of the new fiscal year (2019-2020) in April, said the authority’s deputy director for manpower protection affairs Abdullah Al-Motoutah, noting that the transfer will be done on March 31, 2019. The department is currently under the Ministry of Interior.

Internet service providers
Minister of Commerce and Industry Khaled Al-Roudhan is scheduled to meet the main telecommunication and internet service provider companies this week, said informed sources, adding that the meeting would be dedicated to discussing the possibility of reaching a compromise with the services ministry after it decided increasing the rent value of areas and towers these companies use by 400 percent, which was decided at the end of 2018 and took effect in January. The sources added that a number of the companies suggested reducing the areas they use, which will have a negative impact on the ministry’s revenues. Other companies are expected to demand suspending the increase pending further studies, with hopes to reduce the new fees.

Barely enough
Well-informed educational sources said the total number of social studies graduates who applied to work as social and psychological workers in Ministry of Education (MoE) schools is only 10, which is barely enough for 10 schools, and thus the shortage is expected to last for five more years. The sources added that MoE had demanded more financial incentives for these jobs to attract more citizens, but none had been so far approved and many schools are suffering in view of the Kuwaitization policy and termination of contracts of many expats in this field.

By A Saleh