KUWAIT: The National Assembly’s legal and legislative committee yesterday approved a draft law stipulating a mandatory health insurance scheme for expatriates living and working in the country.

The committee also approved a proposal to impose charges on medical services for expatriates opting to seek treatment at public hospitals. At present, expatriates are required to pay KD 50 annually on renewal of their residence permits and also pay partial fees for most health services at public hospitals. The opinion of the government, which is crucial for the passage of the bill, was not explained.

The new bill comes even as the government and the Assembly had approved a law to establish hospitals for the treatment of expatriates only. The Assembly is expected to debate today a draft law calling to impose obligatory health insurance on foreigners who visit the country. The bill stipulates that before issuing a visit visa to a foreigner, the sponsor must attach a health insurance policy to the application. The committee also approved a draft law granting Kuwaiti employees and pensioners a KD 50 monthly allowance for fuel. The move comes a couple of years after the government raised the prices of fuel for both expatriates and Kuwaitis.
The Assembly is also expected to debate today the controversial early retirement law amid strong rejection by several lawmakers. The bill was approved by the Assembly’s financial and economic affairs committee after consultations with the government and accepting some of the government’s terms. MPs opposed to the new format say that the bill has been totally manipulated to be in line with government demands. The law, which allows Kuwaiti male and female civil servants to retire early, was passed by the Assembly in the last term but was rejected by the government. MPs want Kuwaiti employees to retire five years ahead of the legal retirement age but still enjoy full benefits.

By B Izzak