KUWAIT: National Assembly speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem yesterday said he has invited the government for an expanded meeting next Tuesday to discuss the hike in petrol prices, a move that will automatically end the proposed emergency parliamentary session to debate the issue. Ghanem said the Assembly will demand that Kuwaiti citizens be spared from the hike in the same way lawmakers rejected an attempt by the government to increase electricity and water tariffs.
If the government accepts the lawmakers’ demand, it will mean that the over 80 percent increase in petrol prices will apply only to foreigners. The mechanism to implement this request has not yet been disclosed. Earlier this year, MPs voted to increase electricity and water prices, but Kuwaiti citizens were excluded. The new power charges will go into effect from June next year for commercial establishments, and in late August for expatriates.
Ghanem said the meeting next week with the government comes to replace the demand for an emergency session, because the latter involves lengthy procedures, while the next parliamentary term is due to open on Oct 18. He called on lawmakers to focus on the main goal of their moves, which is to find “smart solutions” to face economic challenges, but by safeguarding the standard of living of citizens.
MP Ahmad Al-Qudhaibi, who collected the required signatures of lawmakers for the emergency session, said yesterday that following a meeting with the speaker, it was decided to convene a meeting with the government to resolve the problem to avoid the lengthy procedures for the emergency session. But he insisted that if no acceptable solution was reached at the meeting next Tuesday, “we will continue with the procedures to convene the emergency session”.
The request to hold the emergency session was filed last Thursday but no decision has been taken about it. He said that differences in opinion among lawmakers could delay reaching an acceptable solution for the problem of petrol prices. Qudhaibi said that there are MPs who want to give the government enough time to study proposals by the lawmakers, while others believe that grillings are the best solution, and a third group is supporting the increase.
The lawmaker said the aim behind demanding the emergency session was to force the government to suspend the petrol price hike until it has presented alternatives to support low-income people affected by the price rise. He said others are trying to utilize the reaction to the hike for election purposes.
By B Izzak