KUWAIT: Health Minister Jamal Al-Harbi donates blood during the launch of the Sour Al-Watan blood donation campaign yesterday. – Photo by Joseph Shagra

KUWAIT: Health Minister Jamal Al-Harbi announced yesterday that non-Kuwaiti children below the age of 12 suffering from cancer will be exempt from diagnosis, treatment and medicine charges. The decision covers children with valid visas who were diagnosed in Kuwait, and covers the costs of diagnosis, treatment and medicine at public hospitals and polyclinics. Harbi also announced that the increase in health service fees will go into effect for visiting and resident expats within two days.  Directors of health zones and hospitals and their deputies will be reshuffled too.


Harby was speaking during the launch of the Sour Al-Watan blood donation campaign. He said the ministry plans to open a large building of the blood bank in Al-Sabah specialized area to serve donors and reduce the pressure on rest of the branches. He added that the blood bank is the first Arab blood bank to receive an international recognition certificate from the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) since 1989. It has also received an outstanding performance recognition from the College of American Pathologists (CAP) since 2001, and categorized as an international reference bank for blood and immunity diseases since 2014.


Separately, a high ranking government official said final preparations are underway to impose 5 percent value added tax next year, denying the possibility of postponing it and dispelling doubts about difficulty in imposing it due to administrative and technical obstacles in the private sector. The official told Al-Anbaa daily the VAT agreement’s rules are ready and the National Assembly is expected to approve them during the next parliamentary term.


The official said more than 30 basic products and services are exempt from VAT, including: Baby milk and dairy products; products prepared from dairy; food preparation products for children; eggs; tea, sugar and rice; milled products; macaroni; fresh meat and poultry; frozen meat products; fresh, cooled or frozen fish; agricultural products that are sold as is;


local fruits and vegetables; cereals, table salt and spices; open land, building and housing unit sales; equipment for those with special needs; bank operations that are limited only to banks; sale and purchase of currency at exchange companies; insurance and re-insurance services; education, training and scientific research; health and medical services; mass transport and taxis, medically equipped vehicles for the handicapped; government education services.


The Gulf Cooperation Council has been planning the adoption of VAT for a long time in order to increase non-oil revenues. VAT is an indirect form of consumption tax imposed in more than 150 countries. It was first imposed by France. Governments impose indirect taxes on certain products such as cigarettes, alcohol, fuel and retail sales. Collection of tax is done through companies that collect it from the consumer before paying to the government, so that it is borne by the end user.


By A Saleh, Staff Writer and Agencies