Gulf expats lost power and water subsidies

Expats in Kuwait face higher energy and water charges after the government voted to raise utility costs for foreign residents and businesses.

 Kuwaiti nationals and their businesses are exempt from the tax.

 The bill still has to pass the final hurdle in the Kuwaiti parliament at the end of April 2016.

 The proposal is to increase utility bills for apartments from 0.2 fils a kilowatt to 0.5 fils a kilowatt.

 The parliament heard that Kuwait pays $8.8 billion a year to subsidise water and power charges.

 The Kuwaiti government is also mulling over plans to put up petrol prices.

Falling oil revenues plunge budgets into red

Falling oil revenues and rising consumption will increase the subsidy to $25 million by 2035, so raising the cost for expats is aimed at reducing the subsidy by cutting consumption.

 The finance minister has a deficit to plug for the first time in 16 years due to losing money from exporting oil. The budget has plunged $20 billion in the red during the past year.

 Expats in Abu Dhabi are also facing surcharges on renting their homes and staying in hotels.

The government has agreed to slap a 3% local authority tax on rents collected as an extra amount charged on expat utility bills.

Hotel visitors will pay another 4% on their bills – they already pay a 6% city tax and 10% service charge levied on the cost of their stay.

Both charges align expat living costs in Abu Dhabi with similar charges already imposed in the neighbouring UAE state of Dubai.

Bahrain considers expat age bar

Bahrain’s lawmakers are considering a proposal to ban expats aged 50 years old or more from working in the country.

 The draft bill claims anyone over the age of 50 is less effective than younger workers, so they should be fired to make way for younger, more efficient employees.

 News of the bill has sparked a storm of outrage in the media and on social networking sites online.

 The Migrant Workers’ Protection Society claimed the move was aimed at cutting the number of expats in the workforce in favour of Bahrainis.

 “We disagree with the proposal,” said a spokesman. “No one is old at 50 and 55 years old is accepted by most countries as the minimum retirement age.”