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First Deputy PM & Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah received Saudi Deputy PM Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Saud

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 20: The National Assembly intends to approve a number of bills included in the priority lists of the executive and legislative authorities in the parliamentary session slated for March 4, says Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem. Speaking to the press Thursday, Al- Ghanem disclosed he met the chairmen and rapporteurs of some parliamentary committees on the same day; and they confirmed their readiness to present their reports in the upcoming session.

He added another session will be held on March 6, as per the proposal of some MPs, to vote on five reports included in the agenda of the Parliament. He affirmed the housing issue is still on top of the priorities, indicating the Parliament is trying to find solutions in coordination with the government.

He revealed the housing conference will be held on March 7 with the attendance of the concerned institutions. He went on to say, “We want to assure the citizens that the wheel of achievement in the Parliament has started rolling and there is consensus among majority of the MPs on the need to overcome obstacles to this direction. Therefore, the citizens will witness the enactment of laws in the coming sessions.”

Asked if he received a request to lift his parliamentary immunity due to a case filed against him by MP Safa Al-Hashim, the speaker responded in the affirmative; confirming he referred the request to the Legal and Legislative Committee which will prepare a report in this regard to be included in the agenda for the March 4 session. In another development, MP Saud Al- Huraiji submitted queries to the minister of foreign affairs on the Philippine Embassy’s difficult procedures and attitude towards citizens who wish to recruit maids from the Philippines without going through the recruitment agencies. This came after he obtained information that the embassy has instructed the citizens to recruit housemaids through an agency - a process which costs KD500 or more.

Besides the exorbitant recruitment fees, the embassy also demands payment for the renewal of work contracts. The MP wants to know the justifications for these fees, if any. He also asked about the role of the ministry in addressing the issue and the steps it has taken so far. Meanwhile, MP Yakoub Al-Sanei, along with some of his colleagues, have requested for a special parliamentary session to discuss and clarify the government’s policy on the national economy and ways to diversify sources of national income in accordance with articles 72 and 146 of the parliamentary byelaws. In the request, the lawmakers said the most important rules and regulations upon which there is success of any general economic plan must include strategic frameworks.

They stressed the need to open the door for foreign investments, because the world has become a small village in such a way that what happens in one affects the others; while investments are crossing all geographical and regional borders. “However, there are major challenges in terms of attracting direct foreign capital, since we still rely on oil as an essential component of national income and the citizens constitute the minority in demographics and the labor force,” they added.

They said, “In addition to the presence of a class of influential traders and businessmen with conflicting interests in medium and short terms; there is also lack of policies on economic liberalization and encouraging foreign capital to contribute to the economic activity. Henceforth, there should be no conflict of interests between the traders, while there should be liberalization of the economy to encourage foreign capitals. The emphasis must be on the benefits of all participants in the development process in the long term”. They also noted that domestic investment is the primary engine of growth and foreign investment may be complementary to drive economic growth by taking advantage of technology transfer and marketing skills. They suggested these steps must be accompanied with policies to encourage foreigners to invest in Kuwait, as well as policies to restore savings or deposits and investments of the Kuwaiti private sector into the country by defining the goal of attracting foreign investment to be in harmony with the economic and development objectives of the State.

They argued that in this manner, the foreign investment is not aimed at domestic sectors with efficiency and productivity so as not to lead to a crowding out of domestic investment which may adversely affect national productivity. They then stressed the need to identify areas, frameworks and economic activities to invest foreign capital therein and to lay down policies and incentives associated with each type of foreign investment. They said that perhaps the most important economic challenge related to diversifying sources of national income in Kuwait is the ability to provide job opportunities for citizens; as well as reforms in education, health, population, utilities and others. They observed that diversification of the sources of national income has become the main issue for those interested in the public affairs of Kuwait, particularly in maintaining the level of prosperity and wealth for Kuwaitis rather than completely depending on oil whose price volatility has a negative impact on the Kuwaiti economy.

They recommended the activation and development of income sources which have not yet been exploited to enable the country to attract investments into these areas, which are promising like fish manufacturing or industries. They believe this is a good way to balance the commodity and service sectors in terms of contributing to gross domestic product (GDP) for the country to compete globally. The lawmakers said all the proposed steps will not be possible if there are no qualified and trained human resources; hence, the need to focus on the latter through the expansion of vocational and technical training courses. They also underscored the need to develop legal and administrative frameworks with transparency through the revision of economic laws to move towards openness and gradual transition to modern systems. Furthermore, MP Askar Al-Enizi submitted a draft bill urging the Public Authority of Investment to establish a fund aimed at guaranteeing a decent lifestyle for future generations. Article One of the bill stipulates KD50 monthly deposit into the fund for every Kuwaiti born from the date of the bill’s implementation.

Article Two states the total amount saved for each of the abovementioned Kuwaiti, in addition to the profits; will be given to them once they turn 21 years old with 20 percent of the total amount deducted and deposited into the Future Generation Reserve Fund. The MP explained this bill will ensure a decent lifestyle for the future generations by granting them money for further studies, implementation of projects or simply to help them cope with the rising cost of living. On another issue, MP Mohammed Al- Enizi submitted a number of questions to the minister of social affairs and labor regarding some engineers who have not received compensation allocated for all engineers. He wants to know why these engineers have yet to receive compensation for the remote location of their work areas, noise pollution and others. He asked if there is legal basis for the nonpayment of the compensation.

Additionally, the MP submitted another query to the minister of communications and state minister for municipality affairs on the lack of services in certain parts of Saad Al-Abdullah. He wondered why the cooperative societies in blocks eight and 10 have telephone services while the residential units have been deprived of such services. He also wants to know what services have been provided to the residents, so far. In other developments, the Ministry of the Interior has taken practical steps to review the security ban imposed on certain nationalities, reports Annahar daily.

This came after several meetings between the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior and Chairman of the Farmers Union and officials of the cleaning company and owners of domestic (maid) recruiting offices. In this regard reliable sources have affirmed that the joint committee comprising members from the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor has been charged with studying the security ban imposed on citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia which was imposed in 2008. The sources expect the ban be lifted on either one or all these nationalities by next March.

The sources pointed out the committee is coordinating its work with the State Security body to make sure that the lifting of the ban on these nationalities will not cause problems for internal security. The sources said that the aim of lifting the ban is to support the local labor market which is employing Asian laborers and to prevent the hike in labor costs.

This is in addition to diversifying the manpower in the labor market and helping the project owners to get the manpower of their choice at a competitive price. The sources indicated that the rumors about the ban was linked to drug trade by these individuals is not accurate since this trade is not dependent on a particular nationality, stressing that the law is applied on all without exception or complacency.

The sources added that the nationalities covered by the ban will be subjected to supervision and follow-up by the airport authorities to ensure they were neither arrested, convicted and administratively deported nor they are a security threat in whatever respect. If found so, they will be immediately deported. The daily added, the authorities will make use of the special fingerprint device to help them in their job. This will help the authorities to arrest those who attempt to enter under another name.

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

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