Financial News

Expats May Quit Kuwait Over Axed Subsidies

Cutting expat subsidies may make them feel outsiders and even drive them to quit the country, says a survey in a leading Kuwait newspaper.

The Kuwaiti government has drafted new laws to slash subsidies for expats on locally made products, fuel and utilities, which will push up their cost of living in the Gulf State.

However, a third of people taking part in the Arab Times felt that removing the subsidies would make expats feel unwelcome, while nearly a quarter were concerned many expats would leave if the proposed measures are passed.

Another 16% considered the new law discriminated against expats and reflected on Kuwait’s international reputation as an open and democratic nation.

The subsidy proposals call for a subsidy of no more than 10% on foreign goods from other Gulf States if a locally made product is not available, or a 5% subsidy on goods from outside the Gulf States zone.

Expat visas withdrawn

The number of expats working in Bahrain crept up by 5% last year, according to the latest government statistics.

But less work visas were issued and more withdrawn in the last quarter of 2013 compared with 12 months earlier.

A report from the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) revealed the number of terminated visas was 40% up year-on-year, while the number of new work visas was down 14.5%.

At the same time, the number of Bahrainis in work rose by almost 4% to 152,473 from 146,739.

The total number of expats working in Bahrain was 514,150 at the end of 2013, compared to 489,000 at the same time in 2012.

Most new visas were for jobs in construction, retail and manufacturing.

School fee aid for expats

Expats who cannot afford private school fees in Saudi Arabia can move their children to public schools under new guidance from the Ministry of Education.

Under the new arrangements, private schools will retain official documents relating to pupils, like vaccination certificates and reports, until outstanding school fees are settled.

However, the private school will not block the pupil moving to a public school to further their studies because of the debt.

Parents can pay the overdue fees in instalments to clear the debt.

The ministry has also warned private and international schools to make sure fees are only related to the costs of educating pupils to avoid building unforeseen debts for parents.

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