Levy may dampen investment interest – Bill seen to risk international reputation
KUWAIT CITY, April 4: The government is determined in its stance to reject the parliamentary bill to levy the remittances of expatriates even though it was approved by the Parliament’s Finance Committee last Sunday.
According to sources, the government expressed concern over the impacts of such a move on the goal to transform Kuwait into a financial and commercial hub.
There is a need to study the matter from all angles related to application and procedures, and the changes it will bring about.
The stance of the government, particularly of Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Kuwait, is based on seven factors. They are:-
■ Taxes weaken the financial stability of the state
■ The law poses risks to Kuwait’s international reputation
■ It weakens the ability of Kuwait to combat money laundering
■ Controlling the emergence and growth of black market in the banking sector will be difficult
■ Controlling the movement of remittances from the banking sector will be difficult
■ It will directly impact the operations aimed at attracting foreign investments
■ The mechanism for applying taxes and the relevant work processes in the banks to carry out the deduction process during the remittances are not clear
The sources explained that the government of Kuwait is keen about working on transforming Kuwait into a financial and commercial hub through the launch of major developmental projects with the aim of attracting foreign investors and improving the status of Kuwait.
However, the adoption of the bill to levy the remittances of expatriates could negatively affect the fulfillment of this goal.
Decline in remittances
The remittances of expatriates in 2017 reached a total of KD 4.1 billion. However, compared to the remittances worth KD 4.56 billion sent in 2016, 2017 registered a decline of ten percent.
In 2014, the remittances sent were a total of KD 5.1 billion, which was the highest in seven years, in line with a record increase in the oil prices.
The remittances of expatriates from Kuwait equal nearly ten percent of the local revenues and exceed one-third of the total revenues of Kuwait.
In the last two years, the remittances of expatriates in Kuwait recorded a huge fluctuation. During the third quarter of last year, the remittances had reduced by 8.1 percent, reaching KD 940 million. This was the first time since 2012 that the remittances are less than one billion.
Money laundering and black market
In the Basel Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Index of 2017, Kuwait came third among the Gulf countries and fourth among the MENA countries in terms of fighting money laundering and financial terrorism.
Qatar came first and the United Arab Emirates was last in the Gulf level. In the index issued recently, Kuwait recorded 5.53 points to occupy 90th rank in the international level.
Experts highlighted the negative impacts of applying the parliamentary bill on the banking sector, as it may lead to the emergence of a black market for expatriates to remit their earnings through “shadow companies”, which the supervisory bodies are trying to eliminate.
International financial institutions are warning against imposing taxes on the remittances of expatriates. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stressed in its report that levying the remittances of expatriates will have negative impacts on the private sector, and will increase the cost of production.
However, if the move is accompanied with increase in salaries, it will reduce the competitive ability of the private sector. IMF said the move will also lead to absence of supervision and emergence of black market.
Levying the remittances of expatriates will eventually prove to be ineffective and difficult to manage because it will lead to transfer of remittances from the banking system and encourage lack of financial intervention.
KUWAIT CITY, March 28: Acting Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs Major General Fahad Al-Shuwei, during the ceremony, highlighted the controversies related to major traffic violations which result in deportation of an expatriate violator.
He assured expatriates by saying, “There will be no deportation except for two cases, which are driving without license and carrying passengers as taxi without necessary license”.
Major General Al-Shuwei revealed that some motorists who receive driving licenses are unaware of the traffic culture, affirming that the ministry will facilitate its capabilities to spread traffic culture and awareness.
In response to a press question concerning news which is being circulated about issuance of 330,000 driving licenses to Egyptian expatriates, Major General Al-Shuwei clarified that the correct number is 196,000, and not 330,000, indicating that all these licenses were issued before 2016.
By Suzanne Nasser / Jaber al-Humoud Al-Seyassah Staff and Agencies
Source: Arab Times
KUWAIT CITY, March 18: Police are looking for a Kuwaiti for torturing his Indian domestic worker, reports Al-Rai daily. It has been reported the victim is not under the sponsorship of the Kuwaiti.
It has also been reported the sister of the suspect felt pity for the Indian, came to her rescue and took her to the Adan Hospital.
The victim has deep cut on the head and bruises on the hands and arms. The victim then contacted her brother who is working in Kuwait and the latter filed a complaint with the police. He has also submitted a medical report from the hospital. The source said the Kuwaiti is expected to be referred to the Public Prosecution after interrogation
KUWAIT CITY, March 18: “All projects concerned with developmental plans are important and supportive to the economy, but priority should be for the improvement of the legislative environment that serves to attract investors for investing in local projects”, reports Al-Shahed daily quoting Dr Jassim Al-Fahad.
Dr Al-Fahad is a member of the former Higher Committee for Mega Projects affiliated to Council of Ministers, Head of the Kuwaiti Consultants Club and Professor of Economics. During an interview with Al-Shahed daily, he said, “We should work on the vision of His Highness the Amir to transform Kuwait into a financial and commercial hub by bolstering local investment process by directing our sovereign investments to invest in the new economic cities”. Dr Al-Fahad went on to say, “We should not negatively view privatization at the local level”. He affirmed that privatization experiments have been successful in major countries such as the United States of America, many European countries, China and others, adding that Kuwait should emulate those countries’ experiences in privatization.
Dr Al-Fahad stressed the need to be cautious about privatizing all sectors, indicating that the institutions responsible for privatization should establish the foundations of quality, competitiveness and excellence in this regard.
No more expats in senior posts
Chairperson of the parliamentary Replacement and Employment Committee MP Khalil Al-Saleh has announced that last week’s meeting marks the beginning of the implementation of the replacement policy, reports Al-Rai daily.
Al-Saleh disclosed the plan laid down by the committee entails total replacement of expatriates in government bodies with Kuwaitis by 2023, reduce the number of expatriates employed in the private sector and retain those needed by the country. He said the “employment of expatriates in administration posts is no longer acceptable.”
He told the daily, “The committee has started implementing the plan. We will not stop until we see Kuwaitis occupying the employment market. He called on all concerned bodies to organize employment files and prepare plans to address loopholes which contributed to the rising unemployment rate among Kuwaitis.” He also urged the concerned ministries, such as the Ministry of Higher Education, to set up a mechanism for overcoming challenges that prevent Kuwaitis from being employed like the academic output which does not suit the labor market. He emphasized the need to provide training for graduates to fulfill the requirements of the labor market.
KUWAIT CITY, March 11 : Customs officers at the Kuwait International Airport recently foiled the attempt of an African woman to smuggle ‘drugs’ into the country, reports Al-Anba daily.
Customs officers have seized from her 1.25 kilos of qat (qat – one of the most common forms of drug use and abuse in many East African nations involves chewing parts of the khat plant) which was hidden in her handbag. The contraband and the smuggler have been referred to the authorities
Source: Arab Times
KUWAIT CITY, March 11: Director- General of the Kuwait General Administration of Customs (GAC) Jamal Al-Jalawi has issued a decision to temporarily ban the import of all types of live birds and eggs from the United Kingdom, Japan and Thailand because of the outbreak of bird flu in those countries, reports Al-Rai daily.
Al-Jalawi also issued a decision to temporarily ban the import of horses from Turkey due to the outbreak of glanders. Glanders is an infectious disease that is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia mallei. While people can get the disease, glanders is primarily a disease affecting horses.
It also affects donkeys and mules and can be naturally contracted by other mammals such as goats, dogs, and cats. Al-Jalawi issued yet another decision to lift the temporary ban on importing birds and eggs from Zimbabwe and Mexico after it was proven they are void of bird flu.
KUWAIT CITY, Feb 26: Minister of Health Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah said the government has proposed re-evaluation of health fees for expatriates. Asked about the study on the negative and positive aspects of the fee increase, the minister confirmed a committee has been formed to conduct the study and prepare a report on the new fees stipulated in decision numbers 293 and 294/2017. He explained the re-evaluation will be based on the comments and questions raised by hospitals and health centers.
Meanwhile, MP Adel Al- Damkhi has affirmed that the National Assembly succeeded in playing its supervisory role and it is now heading towards issuing “quality legislation” through the amendment of some laws enacted by the previous legislature. “These amendments are important, considering there is no shortage in legislation and the problem lies in the implementation,” he added.
On the performance of the Assembly, Al-Damkhi disclosed the lawmakers focused on more on the oversight aspect of their functions at the beginning of the term and they are now working on the legislative side. He pointed out the previous legislature passed many laws “but we will amend some of these laws due to their negative impact on Kuwait’s image; such as the Juveniles, DNA, National Human Rights, Pre-Trial Detention and Public Tenders laws.”
The committee argued the proposal calls for the amendment of the aforementioned article; so the appointment of the board members of the commission shall be through an Amiri decree based on the nomination of the Council of Ministers, while the president and vice-president are appointed without obtaining approval from the National Assembly. The proposal is aimed at rectifying a constitutional flaw in appointing the above mentioned officials as it contradicts the separation of powers principle.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff