Published Date: January 18, 2011 By B Izzak, Staff Writer & Agencies
KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah has ordered the distribution of KD 1.12 billion ($4 billion) and free food for 14 months to citizens as the state prepares to mark national occasions. Each of the 1.12 million Kuwaitis will get KD 1,000 ($3,572) in cash as well as free essential food items until March 31, 2012, State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Roudhan Al-Roudhan said. Roudhan said the Cabinet approved a draft decree for the financial grant which will be sent to the National Assembly forapproval. He said the government will ban any bank deduction or seizure of the grant.The state, whose financial assets top $300 billion, will next month mark the 50th anniversary of independence, 20th anniversary of liberation from Iraqi occupation and the fifth anniversary of the Amir's ascendance to power. The announcement was made following an overnight meeting of the Cabinet.
The 2.4 million foreign residents of Kuwait are excluded from the grant and the free food.MPs yesterday welcomed the Amiri grant but urged the government to step up control over prices so as to prevent merchants from raising prices artificially. MPs Khaled Al-Adwah, Waleed Al-Tabtabaei and Saadoun Hammad among many others praised the grant that will be of a great help to citizens but urged the commerce minister to strictly monitor prices of commodities so the grant money is not absorbed by greedy merchants.Head of the interior and defense committee MP Shuaib Al-Muwaizri thanked the Amir for ordering the grant that brought happiness to the Kuwaiti people, but called on the prime minister to admit that the government has breached the constitution by causing the death of a citizen, suppressing the people and curbing freedom. He said the government has squandered public funds, remained silent on financial and administrative corruption and deprived people of the most basic right of employment.
Inflation in Kuwait soared to 5.9 percent in November, the highest in 20 months on the back of high food prices which rose by 12.3 percent. The fifth largest OPEC producer has posted budget surpluses in each of the past 11 fiscal years, totalling more than $140 billion, and is also headed for another healthy surplus this year thanks to rising oil price. The government has made similar but smaller grants in the past.The state provides a cradle-to-grave welfare system to its citizens who receive most public services and petrol at heavily subsidised prices and pay no income tax. Some 80 percent of Kuwait's 360,000-strong national workforce are employed in government jobs, where the average monthly wage is more than KD 1,000.
NOTE: In case you're wondering, we do not qualify for this (darn) not do we make 1,000 per month each. But don't feel sorry for us, we're doing just fine!