Kuwait Times, Tuesday, Jan 10, 2023 | Jamadi Al Thani 17, 1444
Populist laws first litmus test
The National Assembly holds crucial regular
sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday with populist demands on top of the agenda,
the first litmus test between opposition MPs and the government, described as
reformist by lawmakers. The Assembly is scheduled to debate several draft laws
including a controversial bill supported by an overwhelming majority of MPs
calling for debt relief for Kuwaiti citizens.
The government is strongly opposed to the draft law, saying it is too expensive
for state coffers to bear, saying bank loans owed by over half a million Kuwaiti
citizens exceed KD 14.7 billion. MPs however insist that the draft law is not
too expensive because it deals with only personal and consumer loans taken from
local banks, which amount to less than KD 2 billion.
Moreover, MPs add, under the law, the government is required to purchase the
capital of the loans, scrap the interest and then deduct KD 120 per month from
debtors, which is the amount paid by the government as cost-of-living allowance.
Citizens who have not taken loans will continue to receive their allowance. A
minority of lawmakers are also opposed to the law, saying it violates the rules
of equality among people and can affect local banks.
MPs backing the draft law called on citizens to attend the session and vowed
they will support the law. MP Faisal Al-Kandari urged Kuwaiti people to attend
in large numbers, adding he will support populist laws including the purchase of
loans, repayment of illegal interest, raising the pensions of retired citizens
MP Shuaib Shaaban also vowed to support draft legislation that help improve the
standard of living of citizens, in addition to draft laws that stipulate key
political reforms, especially amending the election law and establishing an
independent election commission.
MP Khaled Al-Otaibi said he is confident that a majority of lawmakers will vote
for the laws, which will improve the standard of living of Kuwaiti citizens, and
also for political reforms. He urged the government to accept the laws. The
government had urged lawmakers to study such laws more carefully because they
will overburden the state budget, which has been posting deficits for several