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Income, sales taxes proposed in Kuwait

Saudi Arabia studies plans to revise social insurance fund’s investment strategy

Gulf News

Dubai: Kuwait’s Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah has said that the country plans to cut heavy subsidies on fuel and power in a bid to offset a fall in oil revenues.

“We will lift subsidies and will raise the prices of petrol, electricity and water” and reduce subsidies for other services, a Kuwaiti daily quoted the Emir as telling editors of local newspapers.

Kuwait is the only member of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that has not hiked the prices of petrol and power after income from oil plunged.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain have either hiked or liberalised fuel and power prices, saving billions of dollars. The Emir however did not give any timeframe for the measures.

In other steps to compensate for revenue lost from the plunge in oil prices to their lowest level since 2003, Kuwait’s Finance Minister Anas Al Saleh said the country should consider introducing income, corporate and sales taxes.

The state should also ponder raising the cost of public services and cut government spending, Al Saleh said, according to a statement released by the Finance Ministry.

The Emir on Wednesday said that belt-tightening was in his country’s future when he urged parliament to cooperate with the government to pass laws to reduce the budget deficit.

In Saudi Arabia, the Shura Council is considering proposals to revise the investment strategy of the kingdom’s social insurance fund in order to raise returns, the advisory body said in statement posted on state news agency SPA. The Shura Council’s finance committee also recommended that the General Organisation for Social Insurance consider tying retirement benefits to the inflation rate, SPA said.