By B Izzak
KUWAIT: Five lawmakers yesterday submitted a draft law calling to impose a 2.5 percent fee on money transfers out of Kuwait to help the domestic economy and stop the flight of capital out of the country. MP Osama Al-Shaheen said he submitted the bill along with MPs Abdulaziz Al-Saqabi, Hamad Al-Matar, Khaled Al-Otaibi and Shuaib Al-Muwaizri, because billions of dinars are transferred out of the country every year.
Shaheen said that based on figures, around KD 21 billion has been transferred out of Kuwait in the past five years – around KD 4.2 billion on average every year. He said based on these figures, it is expected that some KD 100 million will be collected every year from such fees.
In previous parliaments, MPs had submitted similar laws stipulating a five percent tax only on expat remittances to their home countries. This proposal calls to impose the 2.5 percent fee on all money transfers out of the country. Shaheen said such a fee will minimize the amount of capital leaving the country every year. Separately, MP Hesham Al-Saleh said he will submit a draft law calling to impose taxes on money remittances out of Kuwait. He also submitted amendments to the audiovisual law calling to abolish the jail term in the law to guarantee freedom of speech.
In a related development, opposition MP Hamdan Al-Azemi said yesterday that new Finance Minister Khalifa Hamada has invited bids for installing and operating a system to manage integrated taxes. He warned the minister against going ahead with the project, saying that there is no legislation for taxation in the country to warrant establishing such a system. Azemi insisted that all MPs will strongly reject any attempt by the government to impose taxes on citizens, saying Kuwait is among major donor countries.
At its weekly meeting yesterday, the Cabinet yesterday decided to resume the return of domestic helpers from Jan 17, but insisted on the application of health measures. The process was launched several weeks ago but suspended last month after the suspension of commercial flights at Kuwait airport in order to protect Kuwait from a new strain of the coronavirus. The return of domestic helpers will be organized through an online website.
The Cabinet also decided that all people arriving in Kuwait must produce a negative PCR test taken at least 72 hours before arrival. This decision will be effective from Jan 17. The Cabinet decided that airline companies will bear the cost of two coronavirus tests to be conducted on passengers – on arrival at the airport and another during the quarantine period. The Cabinet urged all citizens and expats to take the vaccination against the coronavirus because of the dangerous situation after the spread of the new virus strain.
Meanwhile, around 20 opposition MPs yesterday held a meeting to assess the situation in light of the Cabinet’s reported resignation last week. The resignation however has not yet been announced, although ministers are boycotting National Assembly meetings.
MP Thamer Al-Suwait said the meeting was held to coordinate future moves in light of domestic political developments. He said the meeting also discussed various constitutional options and stressed the need to respect constitutional principles that guarantee popular supervision. MP Saleh Al-Mutairi said the meeting stressed that those who commit mistakes will be held to account regardless if the government has resigned or not.