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Nod to amendments on family fund, defaulters

 KUWAIT CITY, March 11: The Parliament on Tuesday approved the proposed amendments to several laws; including the family fund, defaulters fund, compulsory education and Al-Shadadiya University. The Parliament approved in its first and second deliberations the Financial Committee’s report on the proposal to amend the Family Fund Law to allow the citizens to register in the fund for three months after the publication of the law in the official newspaper. The proposed amendments to the Defaulters Fund were also approved to allow those registered in the fund to obtain loans from the banks and the monthly payment is less than 40 percent of the salary. Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh thanked the Parliament for its cooperation in the passage of these important laws. He disclosed the number of applicants in the Family Fund is 18,000 while the payments made to the banks totaled KD122 million. He said the amended Defaulters Fund Law allows about 22,000 citizens to take loans from the banks again.

Amended MP Jamal Al-Omar claimed some banks have not been cooperative, so the law was amended in accordance with the recommendation of the government. He stressed the need for the finance minister to work hard to address certain issues, such as the travel ban and other restrictions imposed on those who failed to pay their loans. MPSafa Al-Hashim urged the Central Bank of Kuwait to activate its supervisory role on the banks to ensure proper implementation of the law. She also asked the finance minister to provide details on the disbursement of KD122 million to applicants who registered in the Family Fund. Meanwhile, the Parliament approved, in principle, the amendments to the law on compulsory education. The amended version stipulates harsher punishments for parents who neglect the education of their children, such as imprisonment of not more than one month, fine of not more than KD1,000 or any one of these penalties. During the discussion of the amendments to the Compulsory Education Law, the MPs were unanimous in saying the educational system in the State of Kuwait continues to deteriorate.

Pursue MP Jamal Al-Omar admitted his children are studying in private schools due to the poor performance of public schools. He pointed out most Kuwaiti families prefer to send their daughters abroad to pursue higher studies and risk being exposed to cultural and social differences rather than have them enroll in schools here. MP Yousef Al-Zalzalah emphasized the need to use the latest technology to develop the educational system. He said the Ministry of Education spent KD40 million for technological upgrades in order to establish a technological structure for schools, “but we were surprised when we found out from the Financial Committee that these upgrades were not completed because some ministry officials are not keen on finalizing the project.” MP Abdullah Al-Tamimi said the law is important as it guarantees the right of children to education. He lamented the educational system is flawed; hence, the need to quickly approve the proposed amendments. In response to the comments of the lawmakers, the minister of education vowed to implement the amendments next school year. This led to the approval of the proposed amendments as follows: parents must provide proof that their children are suffering from disability or injury to be exempted from compulsory education and harsher penalties on parents who fail to enroll their children. On the other hand, the MPs voiced dissatisfaction on the delayed implementation of Al-Shadadiya University project. The minister asserted the government should not be blamed for the delay as many factors have been in play. He said the government had earlier demanded for five years to establish the university. This infuriated most lawmakers as they voiced their concerns and complaints one after the other. Al-Hashim asserted the Kuwaiti public is sick and tired of promises to achieve development goals; while Al-Omar said students are like sardines in classrooms, yet the ministry is demanding for five years to complete the university that is essential to national development.

MP Abdulkareem Al-Kandari noted he has been hearing talks on the expansion of classrooms since he was in high school but no concrete step has been taken until now. MP Yakoub Al-Sanee suggested forming a committee to look into the issue and to hold a special session to discuss causes of delay. He argued five years is too long, indicating that three years are enough to complete the project. To this, the minister responded that the problem does not lie in the government but the companies involved in the project. He said the ministry does not want to sell dreams to the public, considering it is impossible to complete the project within three years. He stressed that if the Assembly insists on three years, he will submit his resignation and watch how the project will be completed within this period.

He added the ministry increased the number of scholarships to accommodate the new students. Education Committee Head MP Hammoud Al-Hamdan clarified the government requested for an open timeframe to complete the project, not five years. He affirmed the buildings for faculties and colleges will be completed in 2016. After the heated arguments, the Parliament approved the proposed five years, in its first reading; but the second reading was postponed until Wednesday due to lack of quorum. In the meantime, the Parliament rejected the request of the Public Prosecution to lift the immunity of Minister of Communications and State Minister for Municipality Affairs Issa Al Kandari in a press misdemeanor case filed against him by former board chairman of Kuwait Airways Corporation Sami Al-Nisf. However, the Parliament approved two requests to lift the immunity of MP Nabil Al-Fadel in press misdemeanor cases. Furthermore, the Parliament agreed to extend for another two months the period for the Financial Committee to finalize investigations on the Shell Contract

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

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