Kuwaiti Prime Minister Shaikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah (left) and Kuwaiti parliament speaker Marzouq Al Ganem attend a meeting between cabinet members and MPs in Kuwait City. Image Credit: AFP

Kuwait City: The Kuwaiti government agreed to compensate citizens for hiking petrol prices in a plan to “partially liberalise” the fuel subsidy, parliament speaker Marzouk Al Ganem said on Wednesday.

Those holding driver’s licences would be compensated with a quantity of “free petrol” each month, Ganem told reporters after a three-hour meeting between the government and a number of lawmakers.

Ganem said the amount of free petrol that would be given was about 75 litres (20 gallons) a month per citizen.

The cost of petrol would be revised on a monthly basis depending on the price of oil on international markets, he said, adding that this represented a “partial liberalisation” of subsidies.

Kuwait fully liberalised the prices of diesel and kerosene at the start of 2015.

Foreigners, who make up almost 70 per cent of the oil-rich Gulf state’s 4.3 million population, still pay the full price.

The hike, ranging from about 40 to 80 per cent depending on the type of fuel, went into effect on September 1 as part of reform measures to plug a budget deficit resulting from low oil prices. It was the first such increase since 1998.

But a number of MPs who attended the meeting rejected the deal as insufficient.

“This is not acceptable to us. We can not agree to a deal that harms Kuwaiti citizens’ income,” said MP Sa’ad Al Khanfour.

“I plan to question ministers over this issue,” he told reporters.

MP Majid Mousa said he and a group of lawmakers were working on a certain move against the government. He did not elaborate.

“Kuwaiti citizens are not beggars. Any measure that negatively affects citizens’ income is rejected,” Mousa said.

Opec member Kuwait recorded a budget shortfall of 4.6 billion dinars ($15.3 billion, Dh55.9 billion) in the fiscal year ended on March 31, according to official figures.

It was the first shortfall since the fiscal year to March 1999.

Kuwait’s lower court last week ruled that the increase of petrol prices was unlawful because of procedural flaws.

The government has challenged the ruling before the appeals court defending its procedures.