Kuwait MPs target financial help for citizens

KUWAIT Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:12pm GMT

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KUWAIT (Reuters) - A parliamentary committee in Kuwait proposed on Sunday that the government pay a portion of the interest on citizens' personal loans and give a 1,000 Kuwaiti dinar (2,215 pounds) gift to each Kuwaiti without such debts, state news agency KUNA reported.

The proposal from the financial and economic affairs committee, which is made up of members of parliament, would need approval of the wider assembly and the country's ruler if it is to be passed into law.

Lawmakers elected in December had originally sought a complete bailout of billions of dollars of household debt but were met with strong resistance from policymakers who said the plans were not feasible.

If the proposal becomes law it would not be the first time that Kuwait, one of the world's richest countries per capita, gives out such financial aid.

In 2011, to mark three major anniversaries, ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah granted 1,000 dinars to each of the country's 1.2 million citizens and as well as free food rations for 13 months.

Kuwait's oil wealth and generous welfare state have helped to shield the Gulf country from severe Arab Spring-style unrest, although there have been frequent demonstrations over political participation and other local issues.

Under the plan proposed on Sunday, the government would pay off interest incurred on loans. KUNA said this applied to the period between January 2002 to April 2008, citing committee rapporteur Safa al-Hashem.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Alison Birrane)

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