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MPs demand debate on scrapping diesel, kerosene subsidies
January 6, 2015, 8:39 am

A number of MPs yesterday submitted a request to allocate two hours of next week's parliamentary session to debate the consequences of the government decision to scrap subsidies of diesel, kerosene and aviation fuel. The decision was implemented on January 1 and the prices of diesel and kerosene was raised from 55 fils a liter to 170 fils a liter.

According to Kuwait Times, a number of MPs have over the past few days criticized the decision especially after a hike triggered a wave of price rises in a number of essential products. Several MPs have already called for a reversal to the decision but the government insisted it will go ahead with it but vowed to take legal action against those who artificially raise prices. The government has also exempted a number of sectors from the increase in order to ensure that people are not harmed due to price rises.

MP Khalil Abul yesterday continued his campaign against the decision and called on the government to go back to the old prices, describing the lifting of subsidies as a strategic mistake. He said that the current prices of 170 fils a liter will encourage smuggling because now diesel is not subsidized and at the same time its price remains cheaper than in some neighboring countries.

MP Nabeel Al-Fadhl meanwhile welcomed the government decision but warned against its policy of exempting certain sectors, saying this will create a black market for diesel in the country. Fadhl said that the government should instead provide assistance to certain strategic sectors so as to prevent price rises.

Domestic helpers
In another development, the National Assembly's health and labor committee reviewed two draft laws regarding regulating the status of domestic helpers in the country but took no decision on them because the interior ministry requested a delay to review them.

The first bill regulates the stay of domestic helpers while the second calls for setting up a company for the recruitment of domestic helpers from abroad. The court of cassation yesterday handed online opposition activist Sager Al-Hashash a 20-month jail term for writing tweets deemed offensive to the Amir. The sentence is final and cannot be challenged.

Hashash was sentenced to two years in jail by the criminal court in March 2013. The sentence was reduced to one year by the appeals court. After that, an Amiri pardon was issued and included Sager who was released from jail. A number of lawyers said Hashash will not be required to serve the sentence because of the Amiri pardon.

In a related development, the court of appeals yesterday set February 22 as the date to issue its verdict against prominent opposition leader Mussallam Al-Barrak on charges of undermining the status of the Amir. Barrak was briefly detained in October 2012 after making remarks at a public rally which were considered an insult to the Amir and highly critical of his authority.

The former opposition lawmaker was sentenced to five years in jail by the criminal court in 2013 but the verdict was cancelled by the appeals court for failing to meet required procedures. During yesterday's session, Barrak told the court that his speech only provided an advice to the Amir and that all he had warned of is happening now. He said he had warned that the single-vote law in election will divide the Kuwaiti society and indeed it has.

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