Kuwaiti MPs voting on one of the bills during Wednesday’s National Assembly session.
Kharafi hits U.S. for comments on Twitterville jailings MPs pass 70 international agreements

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 9: Lawmakers criticized the executive authority’s execution of the state’s Development Plan on Wednesday, saying the plan contains many obstacles on the field that could hinder the completion of its projects.

The 2011-2012 annual Development Plan barely passed the Assembly’s approval in its first deliberation, with 26 MPs voting in its favor, while 22 rejected the plan and two abstained.

“We are discussing the 2011 plan when its implementation period has already ended. It is just a formality and we have not seen the Cabinet’s report on its accomplishments,” said MP Ahmed Lari.
Several MPs further complained that forecasts on the plan are unrealistic and must be revised and that the Assembly should be provided with comprehensive reports of the projects implementation within a set time frame.

“There should be detailed statements or reports on what was achieved, what remains and the plan’s obstacles. To date, we do not know where the plan has reached,” said MP Saleh Ashour.

The lawmakers stressed that the private sector should be given a bigger role in the development plan and that alternative sources of revenue through development projects must be created to coincide with the oil sector.

Furthermore, MP Abdullah Al-Tamimi said half of the 2.4 million expatriate population in Kuwait has little education and this contributes in the inapplicability of the development plan. He added that the country’s infrastructure is insufficient for the implementation of its projects and called for a special session for a more comprehensive debate on the plan.

Minister of State for Planning and Development Affairs Rola Dashti agreed with the lawmakers’ observations and assured the executive authority will take all matters into account to overcome negative aspects. She said the authority is preparing the next working plans from 2015-2020 and will provide the Assembly with biannual reports on the plan’s achievements and progress over the previous three years within a week.

On his part, MP Saadoun Hammad said that the state does not have any sources of income other than oil profits and “unfortunately the income is wasted.” He said that “since 2009, the government has been paying interest on the fine of the scrapped Dow Chemical deal, amounting to $250,000 per day”.

Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah said the interest rate on the Dow project “has yet to be calculated and settled”. He assured that the government is committed with the National Assembly to protect public funds and that investigative committees were formed to reduce the losses on the deal. Sheikh Mohammed Al-Mubarak hoped the tribunal covering the case will determine the daily interest rate that must be paid.

Meanwhile, the Assembly approved 70 international agreements by the state that were pending at the Foreign Affair’s Committee during previous assemblies, while postponing the vote on another 17 for further study.

Furthermore, a temporary investigative committee was formed on the Kuwait Oil Company/Shell Oil Company project comprising of MPs Faisal Al-Kandari, Nasser Al-Marri, Safa’ Al-Hashem, Ali Al-Omair and Masouma Al-Mubarak.

On another note, the Court of First Instance on Wednesday rejected Al-Youm’s Channel’s appeal against the Information Ministry’s decision to withdraw its broadcasting license. It therefore confirmed the validity of the authority’s decision to withdraw the channel’s license for irregularities in the appointment of its director.

In other news, former parliament speaker Jassem Al-Kharafi criticized the US State Department’s comments on the conviction of two Twitter activists for writing statements deemed offensive to HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

In a statement to the press, Al-Kharafi regretted “the attack on our constitutional procedures” as the sentences were issued by the judicial body in fair trial according to clear legal procedures. He compared Kuwait’s procedures in the legal matter to the US procedures in relation to the rights of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Al-Kharafi said that the US Ambassador to Kuwait “apparently does not perform his role” in relaying the facts and realities.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had appealed to the Kuwaiti government “to adhere to its tradition of respect for freedom of assembly, association, and expression.”

“You know how strongly we feel about locking people up for their use of Twitter,” she said.

By: Nihal Sharaf Arab Times Staff

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