Kuwaiti court scraps petrol price hike

AFP , Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

A Kuwaiti court on Wednesday ordered the government of the oil-rich Gulf state to abolish an increase in petrol prices nearly one month after it took effect.

The price hike, ranging from about 40 to 80 percent depending on the type, met stiff opposition from lawmakers and activists when introduced on September 1 following a slide in oil revenues.

The administrative court did not immediately give the reasons for its ruling which was based on a petition filed by lawyer Nawaf al-Fuzai.

Fuzai told AFP that he argued the price decision "should have come through a bill from parliament and not from the cabinet."

"I believe the judge has accepted our argument," he said after the verdict was announced.

The court was expected to release the full ruling later Wednesday.

It can still be challenged by the government at the appeals and supreme courts.

The development came after Kuwaiti lawmakers on Thursday requested an emergency session of parliament to debate the price increase.

In their motion, lawmakers said the move had resulted in a rise in the prices of commodities and goods.

MPs want the government to compensate Kuwaiti citizens who comprise around 30 percent of the 4.3 million population, which also includes about three million foreigners.

The cabinet has said the decision is part of a series of measures to meet a budget deficit due to a sharp drop in oil revenues which previously made up around 95 percent of the country's total income.

The emirate liberalised the prices of diesel and kerosene in January 2015 and revises them monthly.

Other oil-rich Gulf states had already raised fuel and electricity prices.

In April, Kuwait's parliament approved a government-sponsored bill to raise electricity and water prices paid by foreign residents and businesses, but exempted Kuwaiti citizens.

The OPEC member recorded a budget shortfall of 4.6 billion dinars ($15.3 billion) in the fiscal year which ended on March 31.

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

Short link: