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Panel takes up accounts - Query on gun truck

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 15: The parliamentary Public Funds Protection Committee discussed Sunday the alleged violations in the final accounts of various ministries with HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem and State Audit Bureau head Abdul-Aziz Al-Adsani. Several other officials attended the meeting held in the Parliament Office; including Finance Minister Sheikh Salem Abdul-Aziz Al-Sabah, Finance Ministry officials, Chairman of the Government Performance Monitoring Department Sheikh Ahmed Mishal Al-Sabah and 33 MPs. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Committee Chairman MP Adnan AbdulSamad confirmed the prime minister was responsive to the comments of the committee regarding the final accounts of ministries. He said the premier wants these comments to be translated into action, affirming that the committee will study all the issues tackled in the meeting. AbdulSamad added the premier was cooperative and he promised to instruct the ministries to attend the meeting slated for deliberations on their budget.

He affirmed the prime minister supports the idea of reactivating the government committee for monitoring the observations of the Audit Bureau; while stressing the need to appoint an assistant undersecretary in the Finance Ministry to be in charge of the budget and final accounts. He noted the State’s general budget increased from KD4 billion in the mid- 1990s to KD21 billion this year. He disclosed the Finance Ministry officials, who attended the committee meetings, have complained about the lack of accountants. They called for the appointment of Kuwaiti accountants in the ministry; indicating the committee has started taking the necessary steps to revise the State budget, which will be presented to Kuwait University for further study, he added.

According to AbdulSamad, some government institutions spent nearly half of the budget in the first nine months and the remaining half in the last three months, which means that the approval of subsequent expenditures will depend on the previous expenses. Meanwhile, Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim revealed the meeting focused on the issues and violations mentioned in the report of the Audit Bureau. He confirmed AbdulSamad will call for another meeting soon to discuss solutions. Al-Ghanim asserted the Assembly is keen on solving this issue as manifested in the attendance of 33 MPs. He also thanked the premier for attending the meeting, stressing this is a great sign of cooperation on the part of the government. Moreover, Rapporteur of the Budget and Final Accounts Committee MP Mohammed Al-Huwailah said the government listened to the committee’s comments and suggestions. He disclosed the prime minister emphasized the importance of participating in the committee meetings. He added the premier showed great interest in the next meeting to discuss solutions and ways to stop the recurrence of violations. On the other hand, MP Hussein Al- Quwaian stressed the meeting was constructive and he hopes it will yield the desired results soon.

He said the premier and the lawmakers are keen on addressing the issue He revealed the meeting was held away from the media to prove that the Parliament is serious in its bid to solve the problem and he hopes the government takes a similar step. Also, MP Askar Al-Enezi confirmed the Parliament and the government have agreed on some proposals to stop the violations in ministries. In another development, Parliament Secretary MP Yacoub Al-Sanei has given Finance Minister Sheikh Salem Al-Sabah a grace period of two weeks to cancel the Al-Zour power station contract and to form a committee tasked to look into the alleged violations in the contract; otherwise, he will be subjected to interpellation. He clarified that he supports the idea of allowing the current Parliament to finish its term but it should not be done at the expense of public money.

He will not tolerate the misappropriation of funds; especially since many pending files in the Ministry of Finance, such as the Offset Company, Family Fund and Social Security, remain unsolved till now. Furthermore, MP Khalil Al-Saleh submitted queries to the interior minister on the alleged arrival of a truck loaded with unlicensed firearms from Turkey; as well as rumors about some citizens traveling to other countries to undergo firearms, explosives and military trainings. He wants to know if the ministry confiscated the contents of the truck, the identity of the supposed recipient of the shipment, and if citizens are allowed to undergo military training in foreign institutes. He asked if the trainees are required to obtain approval from the ministry and the actions taken against those who violated the rule. The lawmaker claimed some citizens have posted pictures and videos on various social networking sites; showing themselves carrying weapons and undergoing military training. He lamented some of them appeared on different media platforms, admitting that they took part in killing operations or eased the path for others to do the same. In the meantime, the Public Funds Protection Committee recently discussed the Audit Bureau report on the foreign investments in 2012.

The minister of communications and other officials in the ministry attended the meeting. Committee Rapporteur Saif Al-Azmi said the ministry’s representative promised to respond to the observations of the bureau in its next meeting and refer those who committed violations to the Public Prosecution. He admitted suspicions have been raised on the investment fund for Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA). He added that the committee, under the supervision of the finance minister, also tackled the observations on different institutions like the Central Bank of Kuwait, Kuwait Investment Authority and Public Institution for Social Security. He said the representatives of these institutions promised to respond to the comments of the bureau and to provide the committee with the necessary documents in order to ease the investigation procedures.

By: Abubakar A. Ibrahim and Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff

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