Kuwait’s parliament has rejected a proposal to raise fuel prices for expatriates through the introduction of special cards that maintain subsidised prices for Kuwaitis only.
The lawmakers who filed the proposal said that their aim was to help ease frustrating traffic jams and overcrowded roads by reducing the number of vehicles and drivers in the country.
The fuel price raising option was among a set of recommendations first submitted two weeks ago amid a heated debate at the parliament and through the media over ways to address traffic issues plaguing the country.
Recommendations included increasing the fees for vehicle registration for expatriates and deporting foreign drivers who broke traffic laws.
However, the proposals were turned down by 30 lawmakers and endorsed by only eight MPs on Tuesday as the parliament took up the issue.
Several lawmakers said that the recommendations were a blatant accusation that foreigners who make up around two-thirds of the total population in the northern Arabian Gulf country were to blame for traffic woes.
MP Adnan Abdul Samad insisted that “expatriates are a part of the problem, but not the whole problem”.
“Kuwaitis have too many cars and we too are part of the problem,” the lawmaker said.
The landmark vote against the recommendations to make expatriates pay higher fees or run higher risks of deportation for traffic offences came as a respite for the community after it had been blamed for some of the country’s new population-related challenges.
Some lawmakers, in a populist move, have pushed for limiting morning medical check-ups at the state-run hospitals and clinics to Kuwaiti nationals as a way to shorten their waiting time to see a doctor.
Under the proposal, foreigners will be able to consult doctors in the evening, unless they have emergency treatment cases.
Last week, MP Abdullah Al Mayouf called for a 50 Kuwaiti dinar (Dh642) health insurance fee for foreign domestic helpers and a 100 dinar fee for expatriates working in the private sector. Health insurance fees for visitors should be increased to 250 dinars, he said.
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