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Parliament approves ‘independent’ budgets MPs raise corruption concerns

KUWAIT CITY, July 1: The National Assembly, in its special session on Tuesday, approved the Budget and Final Accounts Committee’s report on the proposed attached and independent budgets for fiscal 2014/2015. The attached budgets include that of the Public Authority for Handicapped Affairs, Public Authority for Printing and Publication of the Holy Quran and Sunnah and their sciences, Public Authority for Encouragement of Direct Investment, Kuwait Municipality, Kuwait Investment Authority and Public Authority for Anti- Corruption.

The independent budgets include that of Central Bank of Kuwait, National Fund for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Public Authority for Social Security, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Kuwait Credit Bank, Public Authority for Housing Welfare, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiaries. For the attached budgets, the Parliament approved the budget of the Public Authority for Handicapped Affairs - KD 103,287,000 expenses and KD 11,000 revenues - with 44 votes in favor and two against.

The approved budget for the Public Authority for Printing and Publication of the Holy Quran and Sunnah and their sciences is as follows: KD 4,865,000 expenditures and KD 35,000 revenues with 43 votes in favor and one against. For the Public Authority for Encouragement of Direct Investment, the approved budget includes KD 9,437,000 expenses and KD 7,000 revenues with 42 votes in favor and three against. The Kuwait Municipality’s budget includes KD 227,940,000 expenses with 36 votes in favor and three against; while that of Kuwait Investment Authority include KD 60, 487,000 expenses and KD 60,000 revenues with 35 votes in favor and five against.

The budget of the Public Authority for Anti-Corruption includes KD 9.544 million expenses and KD 7,000 revenues with 39 votes in favor and one against. On the independent budgets, the Parliament approved the proposed budget for Central Bank of Kuwait including KD 61,777,000 revenues and KD 79,607,500 expenditures with 33 votes in favor and two against. The budget of the National Fund for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from 02/04/2013 to 03/31/2015 includes KD 4,468,000 expenditures and KD 500 million revenues with 35 votes in favor and one against. The budget of the Public Authorty for Social Security includes KD 4,879,099,000 revenues and KD 2,480,471,000 expenditures with 33 votes in favor and two against.

The budget of Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development includes KD 146,921,000 revenues and KD 12,095,000 expenditures with 34 votes in favor and one against. The budget of Kuwait Credit Bank includes KD 78,555,000 revenues and 79,607,500 expenditures with 34 votes in favor and one against; while the budget of the Public Authority for Housing Welfare includes KD 407,719,000 expenditures and KD 1,592,000 revenues with 34 votes in favor and one against. The budget of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiaries includes KD 24,719,376,000 revenues and 23,678,849,000 expenditures with 34 votes in favor and one against. During the session, Committee Chairman MPAdnan Abdul-Samad urged the government to implement the recommendations mentioned in their reports. Meanwhile, some MPs raised questions on the alleged corruption in some government institutions and demanded for a thorough investigation.

MP Yousef Al-Zalzalah raised doubt on the budget allocated for State projects due to the fact that the completion rate does not exceed 20 percent. He claimed some people do not want to see the completion of these projects to serve their own interests. He said the State spent KD 75 million for the e-learning project through which Kuwait won an award from Microsoft, yet the Ministry of Education stopped the project later. He urged the education minister to form an inquiry commission to look into the suspension of the e-learning project and delays in the educational development process. On the other hand, MP Jamal Al-Omar attributed the corruption at Kuwait Municipality to its failure to address loopholes in its defense strategy in most court cases.

He hopes the committee will not endorse any supplementary budget to cover the judicial rulings while stressing the need to take concrete steps to address the issue. In response to this, Minister of Communications and State Minister for Municipal Affairs Issa Al-Kandari pointed out he had earlier issued a decree to form an inquiry commission, whose members include three advisers from the Fatwa and Legislation Department, to determine deficiencies in the defense strategy and to ensure the safety of procedures taken by the Legal Department. He said the Audit Bureau mentioned in its report that the Municipality lost KD 14 million due to these lawsuits. He added he has instructed the committee to identify all those behind the flawed defense strategy and hold them accountable.

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