KUWAIT: In a study published yesterday in the local press it was reported that a five member family living in Kuwait whose total income is less than KD 1000 is living under the poverty line, according to the United Nations criteria based on the average per capita income of an individual living in Kuwait. The UN criteria for calculating poverty considers those families whose income is 60 percent below the average national income to be living under the poverty line. The statistics of authorities in charge calculated the average family income as KD 1850, and 60 percent of this amount is KD 1000, which is the poverty line for a five member family in Kuwait.
Wisam is a Lebanese salesman who is surviving on a KD 650 income. “I was receiving 650 at my first job when I was single, then I got married and left that job. Now I’m being paid 400 and my wife only receives KD 250, and I have one child. I pay KD200 for rent, KD 75 for installments on my car, and I have to live with the remaining 350 for the rest of our family expenses. It’s hard, but I believe that whatever your salary, you can still survive,” he told the Kuwait Times.
Syrian expat Ibtisam, 35, is living by herself and finds Kuwait expensive. “It is one of the most expensive GCC countries, compared to Saudi Arabia, for instance. I know that some Kuwaitis go to Bahrain or KSA to buy items, since the local market is expensive. Today everything is expensive. Now for KD10 you don’t get much from the supermarket. Even the housing rents are expensive, and when they hear about an increase in salary, the prices hike, so what’s the sense of the increment then? I’m one person living alone, I receive KD 650 and I have to send to my family back home, thus I don’t consider that I am poor,” she pointed out.
Meanwhile Jessie, an expat from the Philippines, finds living in Kuwait getting harder and is even thinking of returning home. “I’m a father of two kids, and I, along with my wife, make less than KD 1000 per month. I think this salary is not enough, and I agree that this amount is at the poverty line, though it’s still much better than in other countries. My wife is working to help me with the expenses, and if she didn’t help me I couldn’t do it alone. Today I can’t save any money and I think they should increase the salaries for expats, as prices are going up,” he explained.
Even Kuwaitis complain of the high cost of living. “I’m hardly managing to live at a normal level. My salary, along with my wife’s salary, brings in less than KD 1500 and we have a newborn baby. I don’t feel comfortable with our income, especially since my wife is an expat, so the salary is low. Besides that, there is little security in her job so I can’t depend on it much. I don’t pay rent, as I live with my family, which is a relief for me. I also don’t have side incomes, and now we are only three, but if I have more kids I will have to work in my hobby to get some money from it. I will have to draw and sell pictures to my friends, he noted, smiling.
Abu Abdullah is also complaining about living expenses. He is a Kuwaiti teacher and has two children and a maid. He mostly complains about the low allowance given by the government for children. “I receive KD 50 for each of my two kids, while I spend more than KD 200 for their necessary items. Recently I received an increase of KD 180 in my salary, thus I felt it was actually less than KD 50, as the prices of everything jumped. My rent has increased, and even the salary of the maid increased. Also, goods and services all increased and I feel the salary increase we received was for traders only. I feel pity for expats who didn’t receive an increase in their salary, and I wonder how they live.” stressed Abu Abdullah.