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Al-Fahd owns up to tape Opposition members used as pawns: Speaker

KUWAIT CITY, June 15: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem on Sunday thanked Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahd Al-Sabah for disclosing that he is behind the controversial tape issue and allegations made by the opposition regarding the foreign financial transfers in a gathering at the Erada Square last week. Al-Ghanem made the statement a day after Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahd revealed that he is the major player in the abovementioned during his television interview Saturday night.

The speaker pointed out this is a giant leap towards addressing pending problems in the political and social arena. He added Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahd crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s in the interview, especially when he announced his plan to present related files and documents to the Public Prosecution. He hopes Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahd takes this step soon. Indicating the disclosure means the opposition members who talked about the issue in the recently-concluded gathering were tools used by Sheikh Ahmad Al- Fahd, Al-Ghanem cited the contradictory statements made by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahd’s messenger who claimed the payment was a certified cheque but the document showed it was an electronic transfer. He stressed the Parliament and its members are dutybound to protect public funds, calling on the Anti- Corruption Authority to efficiently play its role and investigate all corruption allegations. He added the State Audit Bureau has been instructed to publish its report through the media to inform the public before referring it to the National Assembly to ensure neutrality of the bureau.

Based on the decision of the Parliament, he signed a letter mandating the bureau to receive suspicious money transfer reports or documents from citizens for a period of one month. Commenting on the same issue, MP Yousef Al-Zalzalah expects a ministerial reshuffle soon but HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak will remain in his post. He asserted the controversial tape issue will not affect work of the Parliament since it does not necessitate legislative dissolution. On the latest development in Iraq, the speaker revealed the National Assembly will discuss the issue with the Foreign Affairs minister as soon as he returns from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, MP Abdulrahman Al- Jeeran unveiled his plan to request for a special session to discuss the current situation in Iraq, stressing this matter should not be taken lightly. On another issue, Budget and Final Accounts Committee Chairman MP Adnan Abdulsamad said the panel discussed Sunday the governmental revenues estimated at KD 20.069 billion and projected total salary allocation of KD 5.586 million. He explained the committee discussed the oil and gas revenues separately to come up with a solid and more accurate conclusion. He said the panel noticed decline in the price of gas on which the estimated revenue was based, so they agreed on requesting the concerned parties to review the projected oil and gas revenues.

On the salary allocation, the committee disclosed the total estimated salary allocation for fiscal 2014/2015 increased by 8.6 percent - from KD 5.194 million to KD 5.586 million. Abdulsamad attributed 68.7 percent of the increase to the Ministry of Education where the budget for salaries increased by KD 188.2 million and the Ministry of Health with an increase of KD 81 million. After discussing several other points, the committee concluded by submitting a recommendation to the Ministry of Finance to review its procedures in calculating allocations. On the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Abdulsamad alleged some Kuwaitis are being influenced by this movement; hence, the need to discuss the issue as well.

He urged the Kuwaiti public to reject ideas which promote sectarianism. In the meantime, the Human Resources (Manpower) Development Committee on Sunday finalized a draft bill on the end-of-service benefits (indemnity) for Kuwaiti employees in the private and government sectors. Committee Chairman Yakoub Al-Sanei confirmed approval of the proposed indemnity equal to18 months salary for Kuwaiti workers in the government and private sectors provided they are not registered in the Manpower and Government Restructuring Program (MGRP).

He said the minimum total end-of-service benefit will not be less than KD 18, 000 and the maximum is KD 27,000. He explained that for new employees, there will be deduction of 1.5 percent from the salary to be added to the aforementioned indemnity while support from the State treasury is six percent. He added all employees insured through the social security policy will benefit from the proposal. Al-Sanei went on to say that the committee has started preparing its report and it will be completed on Wednesday, in addition to the cost for granting the same privilege to Kuwaiti employees in the private sector. He explained this is related to the recommendation to increase bonuses from 15 to 18 months and it will be submitted to the Parliament on June 24.

Furthermore, MP Askar Al-Anzi presented a proposal on the establishment of a private hospital for cancer patients equipped with the latest therapeutic devices and technologies, along with the appointment of specialists in the field. Askar also called for the creation of integrated centers for early detection of cancer in medical complexes throughout the country. He suggested there should be one such center in each governorate, asserting the centers must be wellequipped with highly-qualified staff and they must operate in two shifts. He said the centers should also be active in raising public awareness on the nature, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

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

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