Manama: Kuwaiti authorities have started disconnecting utility services to people who failed to clear their bill arrears.
The move is part of a scheme launched by the government to recover millions of dinars in unpaid water and electricity bills.
Authorities first cut water supply to defaulters before disconnecting power supply and ultimately initiate legal procedures that could result in prison terms and fines.
The first batch of individuals and establishments to have their water supply disconnected included those who had run up arrears in excess of 10,000 Kuwaiti dinars (Dh130,268), local Arabic daily Al Watan reported on Sunday.
Abdul Aziz Al Ebrahim, the minister for water and electricity, told the newspaper that private schools that failed to pay bills in excess of 10,000 Kuwaiti dinars had their water supply cut off on Wednesday.
“The ministry is serious in recovering amounts of money that have been pending for years and we will not hesitate to apply the law, starting with those who are financially able to pay their dues. There are a few of them, but we will start with them before we move on to the other consumers,” he said.
The scheme covers residences and commercial buildings and establishments, Al Ebrahim said.
“Through other programmes, we were able to recover around 135 million Kuwaiti dinars of the 303 million Kuwaiti dinars due to the state in the last six months,” he said, “What remains now is 55 per cent and we hope to get the remaining amounts.”
The Kuwaiti government heavily subsidises the consumption of electricity.
“The cost a unit is 37 fils, and the government subsidises every unit by 35 fils, leaving the consumer to pay only two fils,” Al Ebrahim said. “As for the consumption of water, the cost of a gallon is 8.450 Kuwaiti dinars, but the government pays 7.650 dinars and the consumer pays only 800 fils. The state thus pays off 95 per cent of the total consumption,” he said.
Kuwait, with its huge reserves of oil, has one of the most outstanding welfare systems in the world. The total population of citizens and expatriates, mainly from Asian countries, is less than three million.