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Parliament discusses foreign investments, general reserves

 KUWAIT CITY, May 14: The Parliament discussed Kuwait’s foreign investments and general reserves in a two-hour secret session Wednesday as per the request of the government. Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim explained the government requested for the secret session to look into the performance of foreign investments and the general reserves. He said Finance Minister Anas Al Saleh presented justifications for holding the secret session, indicating a number of MPs talked about the issue; while the finance minister and managing director of Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) responded to the queries and comments of lawmakers.

The speaker also confirmed approval of a proposal to assign the State Audit Bureau, which reserves the right to seek assistance from specialized state institutions, to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the management of general financial reserves. He disclosed the Parliament agreed to form an investigative committee to look into the current situation of the investment offices in London. MPs Rakan Al-Nisf, Mohammed Al-Jabri, Sultan Al-Shemiri, Madhi Al- Hajri and Khalil Saleh were elected as members of the committee that will work until the next legislative round. He added the secret session also approved the appointment of Adel Al- Sahrawi as vice chairman of State Audit Bureau.

During election of the London committee members, Abdul- Hameed Dashti, who nominated himself but did not win, congratulated the winning MPs and unveiled his plan to present all documents in his possession to prove there have been anomalies in the investment offices. He pointed out it is unacceptable for the government to recall employees at the office; except one, as this indicates a ‘grand scam’ is going on in the offices. He stressed that the documents and testimonies he obtained from the recalled employees made him more determined to find out the truth.

On the other hand, the minister of finance criticized Dashti’s statement; considering the reasons for recalling the employees were discussed in the secret session. He requested the speaker to delete the ‘grand scam’ allegation from the recording of the lawmaker’s statement.

Despite their reservations on the formation of the investigative panel, the members affirmed their willingness to accept documents that could prove the alleged irregularities in a bid to uncover the truth.

In another development, the Assembly discussed the report of the Public Utilities Committee on the proposed establishment of a public authority for land transportation. In spite of the agreement between the committee and the government on the contents of the bill, Minister of Public Works Abdulaziz Al-Ibrahim called for amendment of the article stipulating that all roads in Kuwait will be under the supervision of the authority.

He suggested putting the main roads and highways under the supervision of the authority, while the inner and secondary roads remain under the Ministry of Public Works. He argued that the main reason for drafting the bill is to supervise highways and reduce traffic jams, so if the management of inner roads will fall under the authority as well; then there is no point in having the ministry.

Responding to the minister, Committee Chairman MP Adel Al-Kharafi asserted that as a civil engineer himself; it makes no sense to divide the management of roads. He said other developed countries have such an authority which manages everything related to land transport. He added 10 percent of Kuwait’s road network is classified as highways, and if that is the case, there is no reason to form a new authority.

Commenting on the issue, the committee rapporteur clarified that the rationale behind forming an authority for land transportation is the concept of specialization, asserting there is no point in forming a new authority if it will manage only 10 percent of the road network. Majority of the MPs agreed with the committee, including MP Jamal Al-Omar who believes that by handing over full responsibility of road network to the authority; the ministry will have its obligations slashed in half, making it easier to focus on other projects, especially since it has been lagging behind in terms of the implementation of current major road projects. In a last bid to convince the Assembly, Al-Ibrahim explained that if all roads fall under the authority, it will face the same issue of slow accomplishment as the ministry is experiencing now.

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

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