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Govt challenges verdict against petrol price hike – Wednesday’s meeting crucial to resolve crisis: MP

KUWAIT: The government yesterday submitted an appeal against the administrative court verdict which ruled that the increase in petrol prices was “unlawful” due to procedural flaws. The appeals court will now set a date to start hearing the case. Its decision is crucial to the fate of the hike in petrol prices, which went into effect on Sept 1. In its appeal, the government’s legal department insisted that the decision is legal and followed the proper procedures, and demanded that the court overturn the lower court ruling.

The administrative court said last week that the hike decision breached the law because the government did not take the approval of the Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC), the highest oil decision-making body in the country. The court said that the opinion of SPC in oil-related issues is essential for any decision to be in line with the law. The court also rejected a request to implement its ruling immediately to scrap the price hike. But if the court of appeals upholds the ruling, the price hike will be suspended immediately pending a revision of the ruling by the court of cassation, the country’s supreme court, whose rulings are final.

Meanwhile, a crucial meeting is scheduled to take place tomorrow between the government and lawmakers to discuss measures to compensate Kuwaiti citizens affected by the petrol price hike. The meeting was called by Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem to replace a request by 35 MPs to hold an emergency session of the National Assembly to debate the issue. The Assembly is currently on summer recess and will open its new term on Oct 18. Holding any session requires the signature of the majority of its members. Ghanem said that an informal meeting with the government will serve the purpose of the emergency session in resolving the standoff between the government and the assembly over the petrol price hike.

MPs are insisting that Kuwaiti citizens must not be affected by the increase and as such the government should find a mechanism to compensate them. MP Abdullah Maayouf said the meeting is crucial to resolve the petrol price issue and “reach an efficient solution for the two sides”. He said the meeting is not being held for election purposes but to deal with any negative impact against Kuwaiti citizens. Maayouf said that the meeting will not end before reaching a solution in favor of Kuwaiti citizens, adding that he is hopeful the petrol crisis will be resolved.

By B Izzak

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