KUWAIT: A Ministry of Electricity and Water team yesterday briefed the National Assembly Financial and Economic Affairs Committee of plans to hike electricity charges which indicate that expatriate households are likely to pay most of the rises if approved. The Ministry divided its plans into four categories targeting private houses – a term meaning mostly Kuwaitis – investment houses, a term that refers to buildings – a majority of which are inhabited by foreigners, commercial and industrial.
Current electricity charges are 2 fils per kilowatt for all purposes and uses and houses. The Ministry team proposed to raise the charges for investment houses (mostly expatriates) to be as follows: (First) -1,000 kilowatt: 5 fils per kilowatt; (Second)-1,000 kilowatt: 8 fils per kilowatt; (Third)-1,000 kilowatts: 10 fils per kilowatts. This means that if a house in an investment building consumes 3,000 kilowatts in a particular month, the bill will be KD 23 for that month up from the current charges of just KD 6. If the consumption is 1,000 or less, the bill will be just KD 5. The charges for a consumption of 2,000 will be KD 13 and so on.
As for private houses or mostly Kuwaiti citizens, the proposed increases are as follows: (First)-3,000 kilowatts: 3 fils per kilowatt; (Second)-3,000 kilowatts: 8 fils per kilowatt; (Third)-3,000 kilowatts: 10 fils per kilowatts. This means that private houses which consume 9,000 kilowatts per month will pay KD 63 instead of KD 18 at current charges. The Ministry team also proposed to increase the charges for commercial use to 19 fils per kilowatts and leave it at 2 fils per kilowatt for industrial use.
Head of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee MP Faisal Al-Shaye said the committee and the government have not reached an agreement on the proposals so far and another meeting will be held on Saturday. He, however, insisted that discussions in the meeting focused that the aim of the charges is to cut consumption rather than boost revenues. Shaye said the committee made proposals to electricity consumption categories aimed at reducing consumption and told the government that it will not agree to any measures that could harm low and middle income sections.
The lawmaker said the meeting discussed several financial and technical alternatives for raising electricity charges, adding that the government has the right to make proposals but the final decision will be made by the National Assembly. Under a law passed by the Assembly more than two decades ago, the government has not right to increase charges on public services without the prior approval of the Assembly. This includes electricity, water and other services. But it does not include fuels. The government has been trying to convince MPs about the need to reduce subsidies to petrol and electricity as part of its efforts to rationalize consumption and boost non-oil revenues to finance the budget deficit after the sharp decline in oil prices.
By B Izzak