Kuwait is not sitting idle watching Saudi, and the UAE monopolizing the limelight.
It is sending a strong message, in fact 3, that the country is putting itself on the business agenda first through some domestic corruption cleanup.
A new population census might be in order, but this review will likely result in hundreds of thousands ending up seeing the interior furnishings of Kuwait jails for the very first time.
23% of Kuwaitis not Kuwaitis
Kuwaiti MP Safa Al Hashem, Kuwait parliament’s only female representative, said 300,000 have illegally obtained Kuwaiti citizenship, following a the recent emergence of new cases where foreigners, the majority of which were Syrians, have forged their way into earning a citizenship.
A population census today shows there are 1.3 million recognised Kuwaiti citizens but of these only 1 million are true with the rest being imposters.
“I applaud the efforts of the Ministry of Interior in trapping those who forged documents to obtain the Kuwaiti citizenship illegally,” MP Safa Al Hashem said as by Kuwaiti daily Al Rai on Wednesday.
Prosecutors will also seek those Kuwaitis who facilitated the forging of such documents and were paid for their illegal services.
Kuwait’s Criminal Court recently laid a 7-year sentence on a Saudi national for obtaining a Kuwaiti citizenship fraudulently and siphoning some $80,000 from the country.
Kuwait is a generous caregiver with education, health and other services being free.
“The court also ruled that the defendant be dismissed from his profession and pay a a $160,000 fine ahead of his deportation after serving the jail term,” said Al Rai who added that the court also fined and sentenced six Syrian nationals to four years in jail for doing the same misdeed.
Al Hashem said that she was fully in support of the Interior Ministry’s endeavour to unmask citizenship forgers.
“When I first talked about the cases of forged citizenship, many people refused to believe me and even accused me of exaggerating,” she said.
“I initially thought there were around 62,000 forged citizenship cases, but now there are several facts that indicate that the figure is 300,000.”
Next comes an expensive proposition to reduce traffic congestion.
Driving licenses could cost the price of a small car
Al Hashem is also proposing a $3,300 fee for expat driving licences as a way to reduce traffic congestion in Kuwait
She has submitted a parliamentary proposal that would see foreigners charged that amount to have driving rights in the country.
Al-Hashem is not in favour of foreign expats staying beyond 10 years in the country, as she has previously indicated.
There are more that 2.2 million foreigners living in Kuwait.
As if not enough, the MP request implies as well an annual renewal fee of $1,657 for each car owned by expats.
“Other parts of the plan include the linking of expat driving licences to their work permits to prevent fraud and the banning of the renewal of foreign workers’ vehicle registrations if their car is more than 10 years old,” said media reports.
Last, oil merger talks are taking place in London ahead of a planned IPO.
Now to much deserved news about Kuwaiti oil, knowing that proven oil reserves in Kuwait make up 8% of global reserves, and the tiny country is OPEC’s third largest oil producer with over 104 billion barrels.
Reuters said that oil and gas firm Kuwait Energy is in merger talks with London-listed SOCO International an oil and gas exploration company listed on the London Stock Exchange, who on Monday said it was evaluating such a deal.
“A merger would provide a way for the Kuwaiti company to go public after it failed last year to complete an initial public offer of its shares on the London exchange, through which it hoped to raise about $150 million,” said Reuters.
“SOCO, which has a market capitalization of about $500 million, said discussions with Kuwait Energy’s newly constituted board were preliminary and no deal terms had been agreed.”
According to Reuters, SOCO had $132 million in cash as of September last year while Kuwait Energy had $43 million in cash at the end of September.