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‘Intensify efforts to release Kuwaiti Gitmos’ More cooperation seen between govt and Parliament

KUWAIT CITY, March 10: MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari has called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to look into the latest developments in the ongoing efforts to secure the release of two Kuwaitis detained in Guantanamo Bay— Fauzi Al-Awda and Faiz Al-Kandari. This came after the publication of a report that a Kuwaiti delegation had an official discussion with the United States regarding the two Kuwaiti detainees and a medical team visited them to check their health condition. Al-Kandari stressed the need for the ministry to intensify its efforts in addressing the problem, considering the country has been grappling with this humanitarian issue for 13 years.  He asked, “What is the use of the strong Kuwaiti-American ties if the ministry cannot do anything to secure the release of the Kuwaiti detainees in Guantanamo, similar to what other countries have done?”

On another issue, Undersecretary of the State Ministry for National Assembly  Affairs Ahmed Barrak Al-Haifi expects the Parliament to have more achievements in the coming period since it has, so far, approved  25 laws; including 15 international agreements.   In a report he presented recently to the press, Al-Haifi attributed the positive cooperation between the legislative and executive authorities to the reshuffling of the government in January.  He said the Assembly also discussed one interpellation and formed inquiry or fact-finding commissions.  He expects more accomplishments in the second regular session of the legislature.


He pointed out that many of the laws passed by the Parliament  are regarded as milestones in the legislative structure of the State of Kuwait.  He cited as examples the Electronic Transactions Law - a modern legislation that  keeps pace with the shift towards e-government; amendment of the Small and Medium Enterprises Law to generate thousands of jobs, support the youths and the middle class and boost the economy; housing care  support worth KD30,000 to subsidize building materials; privatization of Kuwait Airways Cooperation which was approved after several years of political disputes; and the Private Nurseries Law that was left pending for many years.
He added a package of important legislation is underway, indicating the government is seeking to cooperate with members of the National Assembly to approve these proposals in the upcoming sessions.  The most important of which is the second reading of  the Telecommunications and Information Technology Regulation bill  tabled for discussion on Tuesday, public tenders, BOT, consumer protection and transportation authority.


Despite the remarkable legislative achievements since the   Cabinet reshuffle in January, the oversight role of the Parliament did not take a back seat as it continued with the same efficiency.  The government’s positive move was unprecedented, especially in terms of discussions on the interpellation against Minister of Public Works, Electricity and Water Abdulaziz Al-Ibrahim in the first session.  This is the 11th interpellation in the current session but the fact that the minister did not demand for postponement was a first in the legislature. 
The government’s cooperation did not stop at facing all interpellations as it had also agreed on the formation of numerous parliamentary inquiry commissions with full transparency.   This led to the creation of commissions to scrutinize contracts for the Al-Zour plant project, Kuwait Airways Corporation’s purchase or leasing of aircraft, multimillion deposits and foreign remittances.  The State Audit Bureau has also been instructed to prepare reports on the alleged diesel smuggling and questionable points in the contract between Kuwait Oil Company and Shell International, Al-Haifi revealed.


He went on to say the positive cooperation between the executive and legislative authorities was also manifested in their ability to work together to overcome crises, as it happened in the GCC Security Agreement.  This led to a decision to postpone discussions in order to conduct a comprehensive study on the constitutional and legal aspects  of the agreement.  The Parliament also agreed to give the government enough time to study all proposals regarding the children allowance. 
He asserted government’s cooperation extends to all parliamentary activities like the submission of questions, recommendations and observations of the MPs as per the directives given by HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jabber Al-Mubarak and Minister of Oil and Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs Ali Al-Omair to provide all means within the framework of the provisions of the Constitution and regulations to promote positive and constructive cooperation, which is under the jurisdiction of the State Ministry for National Assembly Affairs.


In this context , Al-Haifi stressed  that the Parliament, in all the meetings held after the ministerial reshuffle, looked into the  item  of the parliamentary questions.  In spite of observations by some MPs about the answers of ministers, it has been noted that there was an increase in the rate of answers to questions from less than 47 percent before the ministerial reshuffle to 74.6  percent after Al-Omair took over the ministerial post .  The ministers responded to 627 of 841 questions and Al-Haifi considers this a remarkable progress, not only due to the legislative-executive cooperation but also because of the role of the State Ministry for National Assembly Affairs, in coordination with other ministries, to accelerate the process of responding to questions.  He affirmd both authorities are keen on applying  Article 50 of the Constitution which stipulates separation of powers. 


Meanwhile, MP Hamdan Al-Azmi stressed the importance of voting on the proposal to amend the defaulters and family funds on Tuesday, taking into consideration that both bills were endorsed in the previous session.  He said the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee approved these amendments to ease the financial burdens of citizens who obtained loans.  He called on the government   to cooperate with the Parliament, instead of giving excuses not to pass these proposals, to improve the living conditions of citizens and to help them cope with the rising cost of living.

Furthermore, Health Committee Rapporteur MP Saadoun Al-Otaibi disclosed the panel has approved the bill he submitted, along with a number of other MPs, on the establishment of public hospitals in Ahmadi, Mubarak Al-Kabeer and Sabah Al-Ahmed.  He affirmed the Ministry of Health expressed its willingness to support the bill in a previous meeting, during which the undersecretary informed the panel that the ministry is doing expansion works in almost all public hospitals. These works include increasing the number beds in hospitals by 136 percent which is equal to 10,078 beds.

Committee member MP Talal Al-Jallaal stated this expansion is a formidable step taken by the ministry and is worthy of praise, so the ministry must quickly disclose a timeline for the work. In the meantime, Assembly Secretary and member of the Legislative Committee MP Yakoub Al-Sanee revealed the panel rejected Monday the bill on the naturalization of 4,000 Bedouns as it violates the Constitution by putting a cap on the number of beneficiaries.   He praised Head of the Central System for Remedying the Status of Illegal Residents (CSRSIR) Saleh Al-Fadala, urging him to continue his path and the Assembly will follow.  He asserted the latter’s efforts in the Bedoun issue are starting to bear fruit.  He added, “If we give Al-Fadala more time, he will be able to achieve more, considering he came up with the system that identified Bedouns who deserve citizenship.

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

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