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Thursday , March 30 2023

Bloomberg ‘Sandvine’ censorship report queried

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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 27: MP Mehalhal Al-Mudaf asked interim Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Thamer Ali Al-Sabah to clarify the recent report of Bloomberg that Kuwait was one of several countries which ordered Internet censorship technology from Sandvine — a company based in the United States of America.

If the report is true, he wants to know the reasons for bringing such technology to Kuwait, if the necessary legal procedures were taken before taking the decision to buy the technology, and if this decision is based on the recommendation of a certain committee.  If yes, he demanded for a copy of the committee’s report in this regard. 

MP Abdulkareem Al-Kandari forwarded queries to interim Minister of Public Works and State Minister for Municipality Affairs Dr Rana Al-Fares about the same issue, particularly the comments of the State Audit Bureau (SAB) on the infrastructure and technical support contract that the Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) signed with Sandvine.  He asked if there is any other contract signed by the two parties, if they signed a contract for monitoring social media and Internet, and the strategy of CITRA in intensifying cyber security. 

MP Badr Al-Humaidi submitted questions to interim Minister of Commerce and Industry and State Minister for Economic Affairs Faisal Al-Medlej about the request of the Environment Public Authority (EPA) to transfer supervision of rainwater drainage systems under it, on grounds that such facilities are illegally used for other purposes. He wants to know if the request of EPA is legal and if this is part of its functions as per law number 42/ 2014.

MP Osama Al-Shaheen forwarded queries to interim Minister of Finance Khalifa Hamada about the decision that the former minister — Barrak Al-Shitan — issued on Aug 24,2020 on offering partnership enterprises for public subscription in accordance with the Islamic Sharia.  He asked if this decision will be implemented, companies covered by the decision, and the situation of companies which were established prior to the issuance of the decision. 

In another development, MP Muhammad Hadi Al-Hewaila submitted a proposal to establish a permanent health center at Kuwait International Airport to conduct the required medical tests for returning expatriate workers and those coming to Kuwait for the first time.  He said it usually takes many days for expatriate workers to complete the necessary medical tests due to the small number of centers allocated for this purpose; hence, the transmission of infectious diseases to citizens.  He proposed that the sponsors — individuals or companies — will shoulder the expenses for the return of expatriate workers to their home countries once proven that the workers have infectious diseases. 

MP Fares Al-Otaibi has proposed obligating Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation (KNPC) to regularly publish advertisements for the recruitment of Kuwaiti engineers.  He called for easing the conditions for appointing Kuwaiti engineers, such as reducing the minimum rating in the graduation certificates to ‘good’, increase the maximum number of years since the issuance of graduation certificates from two to four years, accepting applicants after passing a special training course instead of interviewing them, and increase the maximum age to 30 years old in consideration of those who graduated from foreign institutes where the educational system requires longer years for completing the degree. 

MP Badr Al-Humaidi submitted a bill for the Ministry of Social Affairs to establish a mutual fund for supporting citizens with an initial capital of KD50 million which will be taken from the following sources:

·         25 percent from the annual oil revenues

·         50 percent from the annual revenues of EPA, Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) and Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED)

·         Revenues and profits of the mutual fund

·         Donations from individuals and entities

·         Compensation that some people pay to seek forgiveness from God for obtaining money illegally

The bill stipulates that the fund will grant financial support to needy families and interest-free loans to retirees.

MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji has proposed amendment of law number 2/2016 on the establishment of Kuwait Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) in order to put Nazaha under the Supreme Judiciary Council. The proposal states that Nazaha will be headed by a seven-member Board of Trustees nominated by the relevant minister and upon approval of the council’s chairman.

According to the proposal, the members and chairman of the Board of Trustees will work full time at Nazaha so they will be required to give up their other jobs.  They will occupy their posts for one term nonrenewable.  They should have a good reputation with minimum experience of 15 years in investigating money laundering and financing terrorism cases. 

MPs Ali Al-Qattan, Fares Al-Otaibi, Mubarak Al-Arow, Muhammad Al-Rajhi and Ahmed Al-Hamad submitted a bill on ensuring job security for citizens working in the private sector. 

The bill mandates PIFSS to establish a fund which will pay the salaries of citizens in case they lose their private sector jobs — 65 percent of the last salary received before being fired from work and the reason for dismissal should not be a court decision on a disqualifying criminal offense. They must have worked for at least six months before losing their jobs and are registered at the Manpower and Government Restructuring Program (MGRP) as job seekers.  Payment of the salary is stopped once the beneficiary refuses to enroll in training courses which will qualify them for a new job and if they refuse a job offered by MGRP.

By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh

Arab Times Staff