The ruling by the administrative court in Kuwait that the increase in the oil prices implemented on September 1 was not legal has prompted lawmakers to call on the government to reconsider its decision.
The court on Wednesday observed that the decision violated the law, but did not rule for suspending it, meaning the new oil prices are still in place.
On social media, Kuwaitis welcomed the court ruling as a first step towards scrapping the hike in the prices ranging between 40 and 80 percent. “However, we must keep our feet on the ground because the ruling did not suspend the hike and the government is appealing the verdict,” one user said. “The government can also challenge the verdict of the court of appeals if it does not rule in its favour. Therefore, it is a long way.”
Another user praised those who took the case to the court, saying that they seemed to have the interests of the common people in their hearts. “That was highly thoughtful of them, and we now pray for the best.”
The cabinet made its decision based on a recommendation by a committee tasked with looking into the subsidies offered by the state and the fees for public services.
According to the court, the government should have sought prior approval of the Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC), the highest authority to make oil-related decisions, as stipulated by the 1980 law.
The price increase should also be issued in an Amiri decree, Kuwaiti media reported. The court, looking into the case filed by a former lawmaker, Nawaf Al Fuzai, and others, said that the government should cancel the oil hike decided in August and implemented in September.
However, the court did not call for the hike to be rolled back, arguing that such a decision could be taken only after the ruling of the court of appeal. No formal statements were issued by the government about what it intends to do to address the procedural flaw ahead of the ruling by the court of appeals.
However, some lawmakers urged the government not to start fresh legal procedures and to scrap the oil price hike, the first in the country since 1998.
“The government should do away with the increase in the oil prices immediately in response to the calls by the people and the parliament,” MP Sultan Al Lughaisam said. “If the government does not respond, then it should brace itself for a tsunami of quizzing by lawmakers,” he told Kuwaiti daily Al Rai. MP Majid Al Mousa said he was astonished by the procedural mistake that resulted in the ruling issued by the court.
“The parliament will not lapse into silence and will be vocal about the increase in the prices of oil,” he said. “We will have an extended meeting with the government next week and we anticipate it to make decisions that serve the citizens of the country.”
The lawmaker said he was aware the government had initiated procedures to appeal the court ruling and “fix the mistake regarding the decision to hike the prices.” As for Ahmad Al Qudhaibi, the court ruling is in line with what he called the parliament’s efforts not to allow the oil price hike.
“That is exactly what we wanted through an emergency session of the parliament,” he said. “We want the session to take place so that we can stress how people are not ready to pay the bills for bonuses, medical treatment abroad or bonuses.”