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Fri 28 Jan 2011 02:13 PM

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Kuwait MPs sign off $5bn aid package for citizens

Law allows cash and food grants to be supplied to Kuwaiti citizens for more than a year

Kuwait MPs sign off $5bn aid package for citizens
LEGISLATIVE GIFT: A cash donation will be paid to 1.15 million Kuwati nationals on February 24. (Getty Images)

Kuwait’s parliament has unanimously passed legislation to gift cash and food donations to Kuwait citizens totalling more than $5bn.

The grants, made last week by Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah, stipulate paying $3,580 to each Kuwaiti citizen in addition to distributing essential food items for 14 months, AFP reported.

The cash donation will be paid to 1.15 million Kuwaiti nationals on February 24, while the distribution of food staples will begin on February 1 and continue until March 31, 2012.

All 53 MPs present approved the law, which excludes the Gulf state’s 2.4 million foreign residents, AFP said.

Kuwait will next month mark the golden jubilee of independence, 20th anniversary of liberation from Iraqi occupation and the five years of the emir's ascendance to power.

Inflation in Kuwait soared to 5.9 percent in November, the highest in 20 months on the back of high food prices which rose by 12.3 percent.

The fifth-largest producer in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Kuwait has posted budget surpluses in each of the past 11 fiscal years, totalling more than $140bn. It is also headed for another healthy surplus this year thanks to rising oil price.

The Gulf Arab state provides a cradle-to-grave welfare system to its citizens who receive most public services and petrol at heavily subsidised prices and pay no income tax.

Some 80 percent of Kuwait’s 360,000-strong national workforce is employed in government jobs, where the average monthly wage is more than $3,500.