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‘Report on end-of-service benefits soon’ Panel okays all articles of Public Authority for Transport Bill, except Article 4

KUWAIT CITY, June 4: The parliamentary Public Utilities Committee on Wednesday approved all articles of the Public Authority for Transport Bill, except Article Four. This came in a meeting between the committee and government representatives in the presence of Public Works Minister Abdulaziz Al-Ibrahim.

The bill was approved in its first reading and is expected to be voted on in the second deliberation scheduled for the next parliamentary session. It has also been forwarded to the National Assembly for final approval.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Al-Ibrahim confirmed near completion of the bill; indicating the government and the committee had approved all provisions, except Article Four on the separation of supervision over major and internal roads.

He explained the government stands firm by its decision to put responsibilities related to all major roads — including implementation, management and development — under the authority; while that of the internal roads should remain under the ministry.

He believes that the government and committee will be able to resolve their differences over this article during voting on the bill in the next session. He then expressed gratitude to the committee members and the ministry’s team for completing the report, as well as reaching an agreement on almost all of the articles.

According to the minister, the government cited the bill it presented in 2011 which stated that the cost of works on internal roads is lesser, traffic movement is smoother, take more time to complete and many more ministries are involved than major roads.

He pointed out the major roads must be under the authority because traffic congestion on these roads is 80 percent more than the internal roads while the cost of work is double. He said this bill is in line with laws in many countries with the same system like the United States, Germany, UAE, Egypt, Iraq and several others. He added “the main reason behind the establishment of the authority is to focus on major roads and expressways which usually witness traffic jams.”

Meanwhile, Public Utilities Committee Chairman MP Adel Al-Kharafi affirmed Article Four of the bill remains a point of contention between the government and the panel. He said it is now in the hands of the Parliament which will decide on it through voting. He stressed that the committee will cooperate with the government to complete this bill which is aimed at solving traffic problems.

He added the panel is of the view that all roads must be under the sole jurisdiction of the authority. In another development, the Legal and Legislative Committee rejected Wednesday the request of the Public Prosecution to lift immunity of MP Hamdan Al-Azmi due to suspicion in the case file.

Committee Chairman Mubarak Al-Hurais added they postponed looking into the amendment bill to Expertise Regulation Law to take the opinion of the Civil Service Commission. Other bills discussed in the meeting include MP Yakoub Al- Sanei’s proposal to amend law number 39/80 on the verification of civil and commercial provisions and response of the Supreme Judicial Council on the right of citizens to resort to the Constitutional Court.

Al-Hurais confirmed the committee has laid down regulations for citizens to exercise this right and its report on the issue will be discussed in the upcoming session. Furthermore, Chairman of the Educational Committee MP Hamoud Al-Hamdan disclosed they deliberated on a draft bill regarding intellectual property rights and collective rights management. He said a request has been submitted to make a comparison between the proposal and the previous laws on the overlapping jurisdiction of ministries.

He added the committee endorsed names of a group of academics for the values system to be approved in the next session. He said the committee also tackled the proposal submitted by MPs Askar Anzi and Ahmed Mutei Al-Azmi on treating anyone who memorized the Holy Quran and holds a secondary certificate as equal to university degree holders.

On another issue, Secretary of the National Assembly and Chairman of Human Resources Development Committee Yakoub Al-Sanei revealed the panel will finalize its report on the end-of-service benefit (indemnity) in its next meeting. He said the report will be forwarded to the National Assembly for inclusion in the agenda for voting. He affirmed the committee took into consideration the views of many concerned authorities to ensure the report satisfies all parties.

Moreover, MP Faisal Al-Kandari has warned Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr Abdulrahman Al-Madaj about the shortage of limestone in the local market, especially at a time when the country is about to implement major construction projects; hence, the need for more building materials. He added there are indications the Emirate of Fujaira might soon stop exporting limestone due to the construction boom there, pointing out Fujaira is the number one exporter of limestone in the Gulf region. The MP said he had earlier submitted a number of parliamentary queries on this matter, asking about the ministry’s plans in supplying the materials needed for construction like limestone now that the implementation of several housing projects is about to start.

He also demanded for verification of information on Fujaira’s alleged plan to stop the export of limestone, wondering why Kuwait is considered an importing country when it comes to construction materials. He said the primary materials are imported even if the finished products are manufactured here.

Also, MP Khalil Abdullah submitted another set of queries to the minister of oil regarding the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources — its activities, standards and responsibilities — in his capacity as the government official politically in charge of the authority.

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

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