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Newly-appointed ministers take oath Parliament elects MPs to fill vacancies in committees

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 7: Seven newly-appointed ministers and two new lawmakers took their oath before the Parliament on Tuesday. The new ministers include Deputy Premier and Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdul- Mohsen Al-Mudej, Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education Ahmad Al-Mulaifi, Minister of Oil and State Minister for National Assembly Affairs Ali Al-Omair, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and State Minister for Development and Planning Affairs Hind Barrak Al-Sabeeh, Minister of Justice, Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Nayef Hajjaj Al-Ajmi, Minister of Health Ali Al-Obeidi, and State Minister for Housing Affairs Yaser Hassan Abul. Meanwhile, the two new MPs are Abdul- Hamid Dashti and Nabil Al-Fadel who replaced Maasouma Al-Mubarak and Osama Tahous. The Parliament also elected some MPs to fill the vacancies in various committees after the changes in the members of the legislative and executive authorities.

MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji was elected member of the Budget and Final Accounts Committee to replace Dr Ali Al-Omair who was appointed as Minister of Oil and State Minister for National Assembly Affairs. Other lawmakers who were elected are Abdul Hameed Dashti as member of the Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee to replace Al- Mubarak. He was elected into the Amiri Address Committee along with Nabil Al-Fadel who is also a member of the Public Utilities Committee in addition to Mohammed Tana Al-Anazi. Hamad Al-Harshani was elected member of the Multimillion Deposit Investigative Committee to replace Al-Omair, while the resignation of Abdullah Al-Turaiji from the same committee was rejected by the Parliament.

On the other hand, the legislative authority discussed several pressing issues like the proposals to increase salaries and allowances; as well as the housing problem, development plan, response to Amiri address, grilling requests, foreign agreements and social networking sites. During the session, the Parliament approved the request of the Educational Affairs Committee to schedule a special session to discuss the work plan of the Ministry of Information, extension of the work period of the Multimillion Deposit Investigative Committee to four months, and the request of the Public Funds Protection Committee to instruct the State Audit Bureau to investigate the botched Dow Chemical deal. In the middle of a heated debate; the Parliament, upon the request of the Finance Committee, postponed for two weeks the discussion on the proposals to increase the children, rent and military allowances and the housing loan. Financial and Economic Affairs Committee Chairman Faisal Al-Shaye stressed the need to study the proposal to increase the housing loan thoroughly, since it will cost KD6 billion while the lending bank has only KD1 billion.

He said the panel must discuss the issue with the concerned ministers, because for two weeks none of the ministers attended its meetings due to the resignation of the previous government. He clarified that the panel supports the demand of the citizens but the proposal requires further study in order to avoid budgetary problems in the future. He added that he voted against the proposals to increase the children and rent allowances due to the high cost involved, but majority of the members decided otherwise. On the grilling requests, Speaker of the Parliament Marzouq Al-Ghanem ordered removal of the previous requests from the agenda due to the resignation of the former ministers. However, the proponents of the interpellations have threatened to grill the new ministers if they fail to resolve the issues they raised in the previous requests. MP Safa Al-Hashim announced her intention to grill Minister of Finance Anas Al-Saleh if he does not investigate the alleged anomalies in the implementation of the Family Funds Law within two months. She also called for the reimbursement of the illegal interest payments collected from borrowers. On the formation of the new Cabinet, Al-Hashim described it as “strange and mismatched”.

She clarified that she is disappointed with the prime minister, not the new government per se. MP Khalil Abdullah said he will submit another grilling request if the issues he raised in the interpellation he submitted against former State Minister for Planning, Development and National Assembly Affairs Rola Dashti are not resolved. He advised the government to refrain from using old tactics which do not guarantee political stability. He warned the National Assembly will not allow the new government to take biased decisions or be involved in any foul play. He added a number of government institutions have been transformed into ‘swamps’ of corruption.

In another development, the Foreign Affairs Committee approved the reports on 15 agreements that Kuwait signed with several countries. These agreements include the tax exemption deal with China for the naval transportation of companies owned by both countries, promotion and protection of investments with several other nations, with Slovak Republic on the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion in terms of taxes on income, with Canada to encourage and protect investments, with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on its privileges and immunities, memorandum of understanding on migration with the United Kingdom and North Ireland, and memorandum of understanding on the inspection and control of ships on the ports of the Gulf Cooperation Council for the Arab Gulf states. After deliberations on the Amiri address and the development plan, the speaker adjourned the session until Wednesday to discuss other items in the agenda.

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

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