KUWAIT: The ministry of electricity and water said yesterday that the new power and water charges on apartments will come into effect from Aug 22. Three months earlier, the new rates become effective on the commercial sector. The new rates apply on government offices from late November and on the industrial and agricultural sectors in February next year.
The ministry said in a statement that the new rates on shops and apartments will be 5 fils per kilowatt instead of the existing rate of 2 fils a kilowatt. The new rates have been sharply reduced following threats by lawmakers to grill the prime minister. Based on the law passed last year, the new charges for shops would have been 25 fils per kilowatt, a massive 12-fold hike. For apartments inhabited by expatriates, the charges would have reached 15 fils a kilowatt. Kuwaiti citizens are exempted from the increase.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly session yesterday was cut short for the second day in a row over heated arguments and a lack of quorum, as opposition MPs blamed the government and its lawmakers for the “deliberate” disruption. The session kicked off with an argument between Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem and Islamist opposition MP Mohammad Hayef, who blamed the speaker for deleting important words from his speech on Tuesday. The two traded strong words but the argument ended quickly.
Pro-government MP Saadoun Hammad was again involved in heated exchanges with opposition MPs that forced the speaker to adjourn the proceedings for 15 minutes to restore order. Hammad was protesting against MP Jamaan Al-Harbash, who showed a picture of Hammad sitting next to the former undersecretary of the health ministry and signing some transactions. Hammad said Harbash was trying to protect his brother who was the head of the Kuwait medical office in Germany, “under whom some 628 million euros have disappeared”. Harbash denied the accusation categorically and said Hammad was lying. Several other opposition lawmakers also called Hammad a liar who was accused of accepting bribes from the government.
At this point, the speaker adjourned the session. When the Assembly resumed its work, there was no quorum to take any decision, so the speaker decided to continue with the debate over the government’s program, which was harshly criticized by a large number of lawmakers for failing to contain real development projects. During the debate, Islamist MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei charged that the Assembly proceedings were being deliberately disrupted in a tactic hatched by the government and its supporters in the Assembly.
He reiterated a threat that he will file to grill the prime minister on April 3 if the government does not reinstate the revoked citizenships and scrap the hike in petrol prices, besides issuing a general pardon. Commenting on the committee set up by the Cabinet to study the issue of the revoked citizenships, he said the committee should submit the names of its members at the start of next week, otherwise “we will file to grill the prime minister”. Opposition MP Mohammad Al-Mutair also said that the prime minister should be grilled over the hike in petrol prices. Several other lawmakers said they strongly oppose the hikes in prices.