27% reject Kuwaiti plans to cut expat subsidies - poll

Survey by local newspaper also finds a cut in subsidies would force expatriates to leave the country
27% reject Kuwaiti plans to cut expat subsidies - poll
By Beatrice Thomas
Thu 24 Apr 2014 01:42 PM

Almost a third of people surveyed by a Kuwaiti newspaper say proposed cuts to expatriates’ subsidies will create a feeling of alienation while a quarter said it would also force them to leave the country.

It comes as the Government has referred to the National Assembly a draft law amending subsidies for locally manufactured products in the latest reforms to target expatriates, reports Al Qabas daily.

The online poll, by Arab Times, found 27 percent of people felt that removing subsidies – which has also included debate on items such as power and fuel - would make expatriates feel alienated.

It also found 23 percent of people said that a cut in subsidies would force expatriates to leave the country as the cost of living would then become exorbitantly high.

“We would be unable to manage our lives as even a small rise in petrol cost will have a domino effect on a series of commodities,” one respondent said. “But there wouldn’t be a commensurate increase in salaries.”

A further 16 percent of those surveyed said such a move was openly discriminatory and would Kuwait’s international image.

“Kuwait is already under the radar of human rights groups, and the recent spate of deportations and crackdowns were not inconspicuous,” another respondent said. “Add to it subsidy cuts and there is likely to be an outcry by international human rights organisations against such a move.”

In the latest proposed draft law, locally manufactured products would be subsidised to give them preference over other similar foreign products manufactured at costs not exceeding 10 percent of the prices of similar foreign products or five percent of the prices of similar products manufactured in GCC countries.

In case a specific locally manufactured product is lacking, then subsidies should not exceed 10 percent of the cost of similar foreign products, Arab Times reported.

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