MP calls to deport 280,000 expats annually - Assembly panel Oks telecom commission [Kuwait Times]
(Kuwait Times Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) MP Khalil Al-Abdullah KUWAIT: a lawmaker has announced that he has finished preparing a proposal that calls for deporting an average of 280,000 expatriates every year in a bid to achieve demographic balance within five years. MP Khalil Al-Abdullah explained in statements published by Al-Rai daily yesterday that the bill calls for achieving equality between the Kuwaiti and expatriate populations. "This requires reducing expatriate numbers to 1,100,000 within five years, or 280,000 annually," he said. There are 2.7 million expatriates in Kuwait, making up 68 percent of the country's 3.9 million population. Abdullah said that his proposal provides exemption to foreigners who contribute to the state's development, and instead focuses on unproductive labor forces "whose large presence results in sharp pressure on infrastructures". Abdullah's proposal does not stipulate maximum limits of expatriates in Kuwait, unlike proposals made by other MPs in the past. In another development, MP Saleh Ashour yesterday called on the government to reverse the privatization process of Kuwait Airways and keep the airline as the national carrier. Ashour said in a statement that the measure is necessary after KAC last week signed two contracts to purchase 25 Airbus aircraft and lease 12 others. The delivery of the leased planes is scheduled to start in December, while delivery of the purchased planes will start in 2019. Ashour praised the decision of the government to back the two deals and demanded that more measures should be taken to stop the privatization of the company and make it the national carrier which requires the government to send the KAC privatization law to the Assembly for reconsideration. The KAC privatization law was passed around six years ago and the airline was supposed to have become a private company around three years ago, but the process was delayed due to various reasons. The Assembly has amended the law on a number of occasions but KAC was transformed from a state-owned corporation to a state-owned company operating on a commercial basis. Ashour said the government should solidly back KAC in order to operate in the highly competitive market and drop privatization plans. In yet another financial proposal, MP Askar Al-Enezi yesterday proposed that the government should establish a fund to offer interest-free loans to pensioners. The proposal states that the Public Institution for Social Security, the government pension agency, should establish a fund to offer a onetime loan of up to KD 10,000 to pensioners. The loan should be without interest and repaid in easy installments. Meanwhile, The National Assembly's public utilities committee yesterday approved a draft law to establish the long-awaited telecommunication commission which has been delayed for years. Head of the panel MP Adel Al-Khorafi said the draft law will be referred to the Assembly for voting on March 4. The establishment of the telecom commission, a key measure to regulate and liberalize the telecom sector in Kuwait, has been delayed several times by the Assembly and the government, which withdrew the bill a number of times before sending it back to the Assembly. Kuwait is the only country of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states not to have a telecom regulator, thus negatively impacting the progress of local telecom companies. If the law is passed swiftly and the commission is established, a sharp drop in the rates of international phone calls is expected, because the three mobile operators can own their international phone networks. At present, all international calls pass through the communications ministry. By B Izzak
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