KuwaitOther News

MP presses for an urgent debate on remittance tax

Assembly votes on no-confidence motion today

Khalil Al-Saleh

KUWAIT: MP Khalil Al-Saleh said yesterday he has started collecting signatures of other members to make the National Assembly debate a draft law stipulating a 5 percent tax on expatriate remittances. Saleh, who has been taking anti-expat stances recently, said he wants the draft law to be debated and approved by the Assembly during the May 14 session, giving the debate a status of urgency.

The draft law was approved by the Assembly Financial and Economic Affairs Committee even after the legal and legislative panel rejected the bill saying it is against the constitution because it involves discrimination against foreigners which is banned by the constitution. But the financial committee adamantly approved the draft law, denying it was discriminatory. The panel, in which leading anti-expat MP Safa Al-Hashem is a member, said imposing the tax will have important economic benefits to the country.

The Central Bank and the Finance Ministry have both warned against the bill saying it would lead to an exodus of expatriate funds from the country and will also lead to a black market for money transfers. MP Saleh, who heads an Assembly panel working to replace expatriate employees with Kuwaitis, said he wants the early debate of the bill because expatriate remittances last year increased to KD 4.2 billion, according to the central bank of Kuwait. The lawmaker said the figure indicates to serious consequences on the Kuwaiti economy and denied that imposing the law will have any negative impact.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly will meet today to take the vote on a no-confidence motion against Information Minister Mohammad Al-Jabri which was submitted following a lengthy grilling on alleged financial and administrative violations. The minister appears to be headed to win the Assembly confidence as only a few members have said they will support the motion. To pass, the motion requires the support of 25 MPs and would mean an automatic dismissal of the minister.

The three MPs who grilled the minister, Riyadh Al-Adasani, Adel Al-Damkhi and Mohammad Al-Dallal claimed the minister was responsible for many violations at the ministry, the agricultural authority and the sports authority which come under his authority. The minister denied the charges as the council of ministers on Monday announced its backing for Jabri and said it was satisfied with his replies.

But MP Dallal insisted that the minister had deliberately skipped any response to several accusations especially those at the agricultural authority. MP Adasani had warned to file a second grilling against the minister if the no-confidence debate turns into tribal or sectarian.
Opposition MP Mohammad Al-Mutair meanwhile said he has submitted a demand by MPs that the Assembly holds a special session on May 12 to debate a draft law stipulating general amnesty for those who were jailed for political offenses. The bill specifically targets several former opposition MPs and activists who were handed heavy jail terms for storming the National Assembly building during an anti-corruption demonstration in November 2011.

By B Izzak

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