Kuwait’s parliamentary finance committee will propose a new bill to help tackle personal and consumer debt in the country in late December, according to a senior source close to the matter.

Personal debt has long been a contentious issue in the small oil-rich state, with parliamentary groups calling for the government to purchase all outstanding debt from banks and effectively scrap interest rates on loans.

Proposals the committee has heard for the bill include complete amnesty for any Kuwaiti citizens whose personal debt is more than five times their annual salaries.

The committee’s proposal will be presented to the country’s legislative body on either 21 or 22 December. The bill was originally due to be vetted on 17 November, but wrangling between MPs and committee members has pushed the debate back according to one senior civil servant.

According to the country’s government, personal and consumer debt in Kuwait stands at KD6.7bn ($23.5bn). Of the 489,000 loans outstanding in September 2009, 16,000 debtors faced court action for non-repayment.

A forecast KD6.4bn budget surplus for the financial year which ends in March 2010 would be the country’s eleventh consecutive multibillion dinar underspend. Groups of nationalist MPs have long called for the country’s revenues, largely generated from oil and gas exports, to be distributed more evenly among Kuwait’s 1.1 million citizens.