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MPs submit grill request against PM ‘CASH HANDOUTS, FOREIGN INVESTMENT…RENTS’

KUWAIT CITY, April 24: MPs Riyadh Al-Adsani, Abdulkarim Al-Kandari and Hussein Quwaiaan Al-Mutairi on Thursday submitted an interpellation request against HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak on various issues relating to the State’s general policy; including the alleged cash given to lawmakers, mishandling of the nation’s foreign investments, housing and increasing rental fees.

Parliament Speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanim has confirmed receiving the request and he has informed the prime minister about it. He said the grilling motion has been included in the agenda of the parliamentary session slated for April 29, 2014. Asked about the MPs who claimed the interpellation is unconstitutional and if there is any plan to refer it to the Parliament’s panel of experts to take their constitutional opinion, Al-Ghanim said he did not look into the contents of the interpellation and he could only confirm that his office will handle it in accordance with the Constitution and bylaws of the Assembly.

On some MPs’ warning that grilling the prime minister may lead to the dissolution of the Parliament, the speaker affirmed the incumbent legislature has taken upon itself to focus on achievements; especially after looking into other matters and using the constitutional tools. He asserted any aspect of the political game can also be handled within the constitutional frame.

He reiterated the dissolution of the Parliament is under the sole jurisdiction of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah. Stating the Parliament should not be afraid of interpellations or other issues for that matter, the speaker stressed, “We continue to perform our duty towards the citizens of this country, as well as follow-up and implement the agendas of the Parliament”. In the meantime, the lawmakers behind the grilling motion blamed the prime minister for deteriorating public services in the OPEC member, which pumps three million barrels of oil daily with foreign assets valued at $400 billion.

They said Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund has posted losses in recent years in a number of major foreign investments, and despite that billions of dollars more were pumped into them. They also held the prime minister responsible for closing down two newspapers for two weeks, claiming it was a move aimed at stifling freedoms. In a press statement after submitting the request; Al- Mutairi explained the interpellation contains one point with several items, since the prime minister is responsible for the general policy of the State. He confirmed the motion touches on several issues; such as the money given to MPs, shattering the ambitions of the Kuwaitis and youths’ initiatives, pollution, Kuwait overseas investments and the ‘golden triangle’ issue in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh.

He stressed the need for the prime minister to deal with this interpellation openly because the Kuwaitis want to know his response. He also asked his colleagues to bear their political and moral responsibilities in this regard.

For his part, Al-Adsani pointed out the State’s revenue is now estimated at not less than $300 million and it has huge budgetary surplus; hence, it is illogical to witness the deterioration of public services like education, health and housing care. “If the government cannot solve the air conditioning problem in schools, will it be able to address the housing issue? The number of housing grant applications has reached 110,000; thus, the government should resign if it does not have a clear vision to solve the problem. It should not depend on the United Nations Development Programme whose assistance must be sought only during natural disasters,” he added. He said the premier is primarily responsible for the public policy of the State. He lamented more than 55 percent (KD9 billion) of the budget allotted for the implementation of the development plan has been disbursed but nothing concrete is seen on the ground. He then accused the prime minister of failure to manage the country.

He cited as examples of the government management blunders the hasty payment of the Dow Chemical fine, Shell deal and many other issues. He claimed the government and the prime minister have been unable to stop the authority’s fall into the abyss. He also pointed out the decline in all activities and spread of nepotism in State institutions; asking “Why should a citizen wait for more than three years to get a job?” He then emphasized the need for the prime minister to stand on the grilling podium. On the other hand, Al-Kandari said the accusation made by a lawmaker that he and some of his colleagues have received money from the prime minister is a clear manifestation of the continuity of the old approach of ‘buying’ parliamentary members. “If we take a closer look at the State institutions, we will find a thousand points to be considered in grilling motions because the approach has not changed,” he added.

According to the lawmaker, the wheels of development are not moving due to the absence of a clear government developmental plan. He urged the prime minister to stand on the grilling podium and convince the people that he is capable of managing the country. He hopes there will be no government maneuvers to evade interpellation. Commenting on the grilling request, MP Abdullah Al-Tamimi stated three interpellation motions have been submitted against the prime minister in the past six months by the same person; referring to Al-Adsani. He alleged this is an indication that the MP is targeting Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak as a person, not as a prime minister. He then criticized the interpellation and other MPs whom he accused of instigating disorder within the system.

He said this is what political activists outside the Parliament have been aiming for, adding that “we have no business in conflicts within the ruling family.” MP Faisal Al-Kandari expressed his utter rejection of the interpellation; stating that after reading the grilling points, it is clear this is all part of a plan to hinder the development of the country. He described the interpellation as “unconstitutional to the core”. He cited as a case in point the announcement made recently by the state minister for housing affairs on the distribution of 12,000 housing units; yet the housing issue is included in the interpellation. Asked if he prefers referring the interpellation motion to the Constitutional Court, the MP asserted there is no need for any court or committee intervention.

He said the premier should reject the interpellation due to its unconstitutionality, requesting for the Assembly Office to remove the request from the agenda of the Parliament. On a more neutral note, MP Saud Al- Huraiji affirmed the lawmakers have the right to use interpellation as a constitutional tool whenever deemed necessary. He argued interpellations are aimed at shedding light on areas of errors within the government, so the latter sees the issues clearly in order to rectify the errors. He asserted that expressing personal opinions and judgments on the interpellation should be done only after its execution and no one can impose otherwise.

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

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