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Hashem: One car for expats, no licenses

Kandari: Finance ministry suspends reform package

KUWAIT: MP Safaa Al-Hashem, the only female member in the 50-seat National Assembly, yesterday filed yet another proposal targeting the expatriate population in the country by calling to prevent foreigners from owning more than one car and stop issuing driving licenses to newcomers. Citing traffic congestions and problems on most Kuwaiti roads, Hashem called in her proposal that the traffic department must stop issuing driving licenses to all expatriates coming to Kuwait for the first time for a period of one year until authorities have taken steps to ease the traffic problem. She however wants expats holding article 20 visas, mainly private drivers who work for families, to be exempted from the ban.

The proposal, which must be approved by the Assembly and accepted by the government to be effective, states that expatriates holding a valid driving license must not be allowed to own more than one vehicle and those who have no driving license should not be allowed to own their own cars. Hashem’s proposal also calls for linking the driving licenses of expats to their work permits, where the profession is stated, to prevent forgery. She also wants that no expatriate should be given a Kuwaiti driving license if he/she does not have one from their home country.

Two weeks ago, Kuwaiti lawyer Mohammad Al-Ansari filed a lawsuit in court calling to suspend all driving licenses held by expatriates and to stop issuing new ones until authorities resolve the traffic crisis. The lawsuit essentially called for keeping expatriate motorists off the roads to allow citizens a trouble-free drive.

Hashem is known for submitting a string of proposals against foreigners in the country. She had proposed to reduce the number of expatriates in the country, stop giving them free medicines at public clinics and hospitals despite paying annual health insurance and even taxing foreigners for walking on the road. She also proposed to charge expatriates for money transfers to their home country.

In a related development, MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari said he proposed the establishment of a special department to be concerned with achieving a demographic balance between expats and Kuwaitis. He said the proposed body will also facilitate the replacement of expatriate employees with Kuwaitis and will also be responsible for setting quotas and percentages of each expatriate community.

In another issue, Kandari said he was informed by the minister of finance that the government has suspended the controversial economic reform package which stipulated hiking the prices of most commodities and public services to finance the budget deficit resulting from the sharp fall in oil prices. Kandari quoted the minister as saying that the government will be issuing a new package. The lawmaker however warned that any set of reforms that calls for taxing citizens or hiking prices will be rejected.

By B Izzak

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