The grants, made last week by HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, stipulate paying 1,000 dinars ($3,580) to each Kuwaiti citizen plus free distribution of essential food items for 14 months.
The cash grant will be paid to 1.155 million Kuwaiti citizens on February 24 while distribution of food will start February 1 and last until March 31 next year.
All 53 MPs present approved the law, which does not apply to the 2.4 million foreign residents in the country.
Kuwait, with financial assets of over $300 billion, will next month mark the golden jubilee of independence, 20th anniversary of liberation from Iraqi occupation and the five years of the Amir’s ascendance to power.
Several MPs called on the government to take necessary measures to prevent merchants from exploiting the grant by raising prices which have been increasing over the past few months.
Independent MP Saleh Ashour said the prices of some food products had increased in that time by more than 35 percent.
Commerce and Industry Minister Ahmad al-Harun told the house that the ministry “will not allow merchants to exploit paying the grant to increase prices.”
Inflation in Kuwait soared to 5.9 percent in November, the highest in 20 months on the back of high food prices which rose by 12.3 percent.
The fifth-largest producer in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Kuwait has posted budget surpluses in each of the past 11 fiscal years, totalling more than $140 billion. It is also headed for another healthy surplus this year thanks to rising oil price.
The government has made similar but smaller grants in the past.
The grant includes new-born babies provided they are born latest by Feb 1, 2011. In addition to the monetary grant, Kuwaitis will get free food supplements for 14 months. All those holding ration cards are eligible for this grant.
The Parliament has also approved some recommendations from MPs regarding the Amiri grant.
According to the recommendations the Ministry of Commerce must monitor the prices of food to prevent merchants taking advantage of the grant by increase prices of commodities…
The Kuwait Audit Bureau must ensure the Amiri grant and food ration is distributed fairly – the grant should also be paid to children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis because their children are part of this country.
The grant must be paid to every Kuwaiti who was alive when the grant was announced. This grant must be paid to their inheritors during this period…
The grant should also be given to children of martyrs whose fathers sacrificed their lives for Kuwait…
The grant should be given to every army personnel who took part in national wars in appreciation of their heroic role…
And also the non-Kuwaiti military personnel for the role they played to protect Kuwait.
The MPs have expressed their gratitude to HH the Amir for his generosity saying the grant has come at the right time when Kuwaiti families are in dire need of financial help.
However the MPs have warned the government to keep track of some unscrupulous merchants who may take advantage of the grant to hike prices of commodities.
MP Yousef Al-Zalzalah said the Amiri grant came at a right time. He said such a grant from the Amir is not new but every time a grant is given we witness a strange phenomenon – the prices of commodities shoot up and blamed the Ministry of Commerce for failing to play its role.
MP Khaled Al-Sultan lamented “We all know that this Amiri grant will be deducted from the state fund but it is unfortunate that instead of using this money for investment it is being ‘consumed’.
MP Hussein Mezyad stated this grant will not be complete unless the Commerce Ministry and the Consumer Protection Department keep a watchful eye so that the citizen may benefit from it and not the greedy traders.
MP Saleh Ashour stated the grant comes at the right time in the wake of the economic crisis and high cost of living facing the citizens of this country. He added more than 86 percent of Kuwaiti families are indebted to banks, so the grant will help them settle these debts.
On the Amiri grant MP Dr. Rola Dashti said “if our economy and infrastructure are not developed for a sustainable future, the Amiri grant will be worthless.”
She added, “We need to be happy not only in Amiri grant, but also in education, health, accommodation and development. We will spend more than a billion dinars on Amiri grant but until now the government has spent only five million dinars on development projects.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Commerce ensured the ministry will closely monitor the prices of commodities. He added, “We will never allow any manipulation in prices. We are taking legal action against price manipulators.
In other news the Parliament unanimously approved the salary raise bill for Kuwait military personnel in its first and second reading. The bill has been referred to the government. Meanwhile, the Parliament approved a recommendation to include bedoun, retirees and Gulf military personnel in the increment. Those benefiting will be the police force, Army and the National Guard.
This was followed by approval of women’s civil rights and the amendment of bill of Women Committee Law 17/1959 of Residence of Foreigners in its second reading and referred to the government.
Article (1) of the bill states the Kuwaiti woman shall have the right to obtain residence for her non-Kuwaiti husband and children on condition none of them works for a public authority in his country.
Also the non-Kuwait widow will have the right to obtain residence. The bill has been referred to the government. Article 2 states the husband and children of Kuwaiti women shall be exempted from paying residence fees.
The Parliament also unanimously elected MP Dr Aseel Al-Awadhi as member of Women’s Affairs Committee to replace MP Khalid Al-Tahous who has resigned from the committee.
The Parliament has been adjourned and will resume its activities in March 2011. During Tuesday’s session the Speaker announced that the session of February will be pushed to March. The suggestion was approved by the Parliament.