Govt eyes tax­ing re­mit­tances, pri­va­tiz­ing hospi­tals, schools

Pe­ti­tion against elec­tion panel re­jected Op­po­si­tion vows come­back

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

KUWAIT: The govern­ment is plan­ning to im­pose taxes on ex­pats’ re­mit­tances and com­pa­nies, and pri­va­tize health­care and ed­u­ca­tion. Ac­cord­ing to in­formed govern­ment sources, a spe­cial min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee has al­ready pre­pared a pack­age of eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial re­form leg­is­la­tions to be pre­sented by the new Cabi­net and re­ferred to the new par­lia­ment in mid-De­cem­ber.

The sources ex­plained that the govern­ment aims to start ex­e­cut­ing its eco­nomic re­form plan early and that it ex­pects fierce con­fronta­tion in this re­gard with the new par­lia­ment. But it in­sists on push­ing ahead with eco­nomic re­form as the most im­por­tant topic on the govern­ment’s agenda, along with se­cu­rity and the GCC se­cu­rity pact.

The sources stressed that the govern­ment be­lieves that pri­va­tiz­ing ed­u­ca­tion and health­care is a must, while the op­po­si­tion con­sid­ers this as un­con­sti­tu­tional. The sources also em­pha­sized that the health sec­tor’s pri­va­ti­za­tion is in­evitable and that hos­pi­tal man­age­ment would be of­fered to in­ter­na­tional spe­cial­ized com­pa­nies, start­ing with Jaber Hos­pi­tal. The sources added that school pri­va­ti­za­tion would ex­per­i­men­tally start with one school per ed­u­ca­tional area.

More­over, the sources said the govern­ment will also pro­pose can­celling the cur­rent form of sub­si­dies and di­rect them only to those with lim­ited in­come. “The agenda also in­cludes im­pos­ing a 10 per­cent tax on com­pa­nies and a 5 per­cent tax on ex­pats’ money trans­fers,” the sources con­cluded.

Sep­a­rately, the ad­min­is­tra­tive court yes­ter­day re­jected a pe­ti­tion claim­ing that the for­ma­tion of the elec­tion com­mit­tee was il­le­gal and urged the court to abol­ish it.

The pe­ti­tion was filed by lawyer Hani Hus­sein and for­mer MP Ab­dul­hameed Dashti, both of whom were dis­qual­i­fied by the elec­tion com­mit­tee along with 45 other can­di­dates. The rul­ing means that the com­mit­tee, formed by the in­te­rior min­is­ter of judges, is le­gal and its de­ci­sions of bar­ring and accepting elec­tion can­di­dates are in line with the law.

Hus­sein how­ever said that this rul­ing is not the “big sur­prise” ver­dict that could de­lay the Assem­bly elec­tions. Hus­sein re­it­er­ated on his Twit­ter ac­count that yes­ter­day’s rul­ing is not re­lated with the other case that will be heard on Sun­day, but he de­clined to re­veal the na­ture of that case. The elec­tion com­mit­tee’s de­ci­sions to bar Hus­sein and Dashti have been up­held by the ad­min­is­tra­tive and ap­peals courts and are widely ex­pected to be sup­ported by the court of cas­sa­tion, whose rul­ings are fi­nal. Dashti’s regis­tra­tion had been re­jected by an­other court be­cause he failed to sub­mit his nom­i­na­tion papers in per­son be­cause he has been out­side the coun­try for the past sev­eral months claim­ing he was un­der­go­ing med­i­cal treat­ment.

In an­other devel­op­ment, lead­ing op­po­si­tion fig­ures con­test­ing the elec­tion yes­ter­day urged vot­ers not to vote any mem­ber of the dis­solved Assem­bly, be­cause they com­pletely sur­ren­dered to the govern­ment against the in­ter­ests of the Kuwaiti peo­ple. “We hope that the re­formist MPs will be the ma­jor­ity in the next Assem­bly... The Kuwaiti peo­ple will emerge vic­to­ri­ous in the elec­tion,” for­mer Is­lamist op­po­si­tion MP Bader Al-Da­houm said at the elec­tion rally of Is­lamist can­di­date and for­mer MP Ja­maan Al-Har­bash.

Speak­ing at the same rally, for­mer op­po­si­tion MP Shuaib Al-Muwaizri said the coun­try is fac­ing a very dan­ger­ous pe­riod. “It is a choice be­tween liv­ing in a state of mas­ters and slaves or in the state of the rule of law,” Muwaizri said. Har­bash said Nov 26 is a day of rage against what the govern­ment and for­mer Assem­bly mem­bers did against the op­po­si­tion. “We are in a bot­tle­neck. I tell them the re­sponse is com­ing and the Kuwaiti peo­ple will send you a clear mes­sage,” he said.

“The for­mer ‘bo­gus’ MPs will fail. We will change the face of the Assem­bly and will re­claim the Assem­bly cham­ber,” Har­bash vowed amid wild ap­plause from the huge crowd. The for­mer law­maker did not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of the new Assem­bly get­ting dis­solved, but he in­sisted this will not change the op­po­si­tion’s re­solve. He said that since 2006, it has been one elec­tion after an­other.

“They want you to get frus­trated from the elec­tion process, but we will not be,” he said. “To­day, we are fight­ing against the funds they are pump­ing (in the elec­tion). Do not vote for any mem­ber of the pre­vi­ous Assem­bly. We have ac­cepted the chal­lenge and on Novem­ber 26, they will hear the re­sponse of the Kuwaiti peo­ple,” Har­bash in­sisted.

Both Har­bash and Da­houm said they will vote for Muwaizri as the next speaker if they get elected. Muwaizri, in ad­di­tion to for­mer MPs Ab­dul­lah Al-Roumi and Ah­mad Al-Mu­laifi, have said they will con­test the speaker’s post against out­go­ing speaker Mar­zouq Al-Ghanem, trig­ger­ing a key bat­tle in the next Assem­bly.

Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers at­tend a cam­paign meet­ing on Tues­day. Op­po­si­tion groups are aim­ing for a come­back in par­lia­ment after a four-year elec­tion boy­cott, seek­ing to re­verse what they see as the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the state. — By A Saleh and B Iz­zak

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