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Panel faults ‘Info Ministry’ for unapproved expenditure Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 20: The State Budget and Final Accounts Committee in the Parliament discussed the final budget of the Information Ministry and the reports of the State Audit Bureau with representatives of the ministry on Monday.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Committee Chairman MP Adnan AbdulSamad disclosed the ministry only spent 6.4 percent of the approved budget for fiscal 2012/2013. However, the ministry allocated funds for three construction projects and there were expenditures not approved in the budget, while projects with approved funds were not executed. He pointed out this is an issue in every ministry in Kuwait and they have been warned by the committee in multiple occasions.

AbdulSamad said the committee discussed a number of observations, including the KD 919,851 worth of TV show contracts that were not signed but the programs were aired nonetheless; in addition to assigning a local distribution company to distribute Kuwait Al-Youm Newspaper without any agreement or contract, making it hard for supervising bodies to protect the ministry’s rights.

He revealed the ministry has relieved this company of the responsibility of paying the cost of spoiled copies — a total of KD 11,784. He went on to say the ministry also paid for the cost of returned copies as a result of printing more than the actual distribution. Amongst the numerous spending notices is the ministry’s continuous payment of allowances to employees from outside even though this has no legal justification and the annual expenditure for this purpose is estimated at KD 1.5 million

Concluding the press conference, AbdulSamad said the panel asked the representatives of the ministry to quickly correct these notices with the State Audit Bureau and refrain from repeating such acts. On the other hand, the Health Affairs Committee was supposed to meet Monday to tackle the health insurance issue but Chairman MP Saad Al- Khanfoor adjourned it due to the absence of the health minister. However, Committee Rapporteur MP Saadoun Al-Otaibi told the press after the meeting that the panel had the right to convene as the assistant undersecretary for Financial Affairs and the head of the Information Technology Department were present. He claimed Al-Khanfour only used the absence of the health minister as an excuse for adjourning the meeting because he had another meeting with an ambassador. He then appealed to the speaker to take the necessary procedures to rectify such errors, adding that scheduled meetings must be adjourned in accordance with the internal regulations. Moreover, MP Nabeel Al-Fadel submitted queries to the minister of foreign affairs regarding the committee formed during the tenure of his predecessor to investigate the alleged management and public funds violations in mosques in Ahmadi. He requested for copies of the ministerial order to form the committee and the investigation report of the committee. He also asked for the names of the committee members. He wants to know the actions taken against those proven to have committed the violations and the steps taken by the ministry to address this issue. In the meantime, MP Sultan Al- Shammari submitted a request to the minister of electricity and water to look into the possibility of having sustainable sources of electricity, such as solar and hydro power.

The lawmaker believes the time spent for planning the infrastructure for various residential cities can be reduced by 50 percent, considering that sustainable power sources are cost-friendly and easy to implement. He argued this is a vital step because a number of housing projects are currently in their initial stages. He added this will lead to the completion of these projects within a shorter timeline; as well as lessening the country’s usage of its oil reserves since the oilpowered generators will no longer be needed. Furthermore, Al-Shammari affirmed the MPs will push for the approval of draft bills on increasing the rent and children allowances, as well as the housing loan. These bills are included in the agenda for Tuesday’s session. He added this is in response to the public’s demand, which is their right, due to the rising cost of living. He asserted, “If there is any tangible step that will allow us to stop these people from monopolizing the industry, we would have taken it long ago.” He then appealed to his colleagues to support him in his bid to strive towards the approval of these proposals, stating that the citizens deserve these privileges and the country’s general budget is in good shape. In another development, the Housing Affairs Committee on Sunday met for the first time newly-appointed State Minister for Housing Affairs Yasser Abul, who presented his ideas on how to solve the housing issue. Committee Rapporteur MP Rakan Al- Nusuf disclosed they asked for the minister’s opinion on the city project bill submitted by his predecessor Salem Al- Utheina. Al-Nusuf added, “We also requested the minister to provide the committee with details on the West Abdullah Al- Mubarak and Al-Mutla projects, such as the timelines and distribution.” He said West Abdullah Al-Mubarak will contain 6,000 housing units; while Al-Mutla will have 24,000 units. He revealed the minister will present all the requested information in the next panel meeting slated for Feb 2. Moreover, MP Mansour Al-Thafiri submitted a proposal on recycling garbage, instead of the current disposal procedures through burning and burying. The MP explained the current procedures are hazardous to the society and the environment, further clarifying that the smoke caused by burning poses a grave threat to public health and contributes to global warming. He said the burning grounds will no longer be suitable for any living thing; hence, the destruction of the environment. He went on to say that his proposal will help preserve natural resources and create more jobs.

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