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Kuwait MP: Charge expat motorists KD1,200 a year

Al Otaibi says proposal aims to address traffic woes, clear congestion

Gulf News

Manama: A Kuwaiti lawmaker has called for imposing an annual fee of 1,200 Kuwaiti dinars on all expatriates who have driving licences.

MP Khalid Al Otaibi said the fees would help stem the growth in the number of vehicles on Kuwaiti roads, “a phenomenon that has caused serious problems and impacted people’s interests”.

“Many people have been killed or injured in accidents, and traffic delays have more than doubled because of the congestion in the morning, afternoon, and evening. The roads cannot accommodate such a high number of vehicles,” he said in remarks carried by Kuwaiti daily Al Rai yesterday.

Under his suggestion, only family drivers should be exempted from the annual fee.

Al Otaibi is the latest lawmaker to make fiery statements targeting expatriates, who have reportedly become punching bags.

In other suggestions targeting foreigners, MP Saleh Ashoor said expatriates should be made to pay fixed fees for public services.

Foreigners already pay KD12 annually as municipality fees, which is incorporated into their water and electricity bills.

MP Waleed Al Tabtabai said only Kuwaiti nationals should be recruited as school watchmen and watchwomen.

He added that retired Kuwaitis should also be given a chance to work and that foreigners can be recruited only if no Kuwaiti applied.

MP Safa Al Hashem, who has been spearheading a campaign to limit the number of foreigners in the country by imposing taxes on them, last week said she opposed a proposal by the Ministry of Works to introduce road tolls to be paid by motorists regardless of their nationality.

Al Hashem said the tolls should be paid only by foreign drivers, and Kuwaitis should be exempted, at least for the first year.

Foreigners make up more than two thirds of Kuwait’s population of 4.4 million. They are mainly unskilled and semi-skilled workers from South Asia and Africa, employed in the service and construction sectors.

Expatriates who apply for a driving licence in Kuwait must have a university degree, draw a minimum monthly salary of KD400, have valid residence, and should have lived for at least two years in Kuwait.

However, these conditions do not apply to drivers for public entities and companies, domestic servants, doctors, pharmacists, advisers, judges, experts, public prosecutors, lawyers, university and college professors, teachers, social workers, laboratory operators, engineers, foreign women married to Kuwaiti men, foreign divorcees, widows of Kuwaiti men, foreign husbands, children of Kuwaiti women, imams, prayer callers, Quran teachers, librarians working in government authorities, journalists, nursing staff, X-ray technicians, managers and graduate accountants, professionals sports players and coaches, pilots, air-stewards and air-hostesses, students, graduate computer programmers, undertakers and those in-charge of burials, housewives with children or housewives with husbands earning more than KD400 a month.