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CABINET MINISTER DENIES REPORTS OVER WAGE CUTS – Projects valued at $120bn ‘ongoing’

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received at Seif Palace on Monday Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano and the accompanying delegation
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received at Seif Palace on Monday Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano and the accompanying delegation

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 15: Regardless of the current economic situation, primarily dwindling oil prices, major development projects valued in the vicinity of $120 billion are being carried out, said a Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) member.

While meeting a visiting Omani commercial delegation, KCCI Member Tareq Al-Mutawaa said Kuwait’s development projects and civil servants making up roughly 90 percent of the country’s public and private workforce would not be affected by the present financial circumstances.

He added that the Omani team’s visit mainly aimed to explore Oman’s available investment opportunities for Kuwaiti investors, hailing bilateral strong social and economic bonds.

The head of the Omani delegation, Amer Al-Hajri said his country boasts a set of investment incentives, including foreign investors’ ownership of shares in Omani businesses and tax exemptions. He added that Oman enjoys political and economic stability, unrestricted transfer of money and profits and free trade and easy access to world markets.

Foreign companies, which provide trade, industrial and service activities, can open commercial representation offices in Oman, he pointed out. In a related development, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received on Monday at Seif Palace Chairman of Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Ali Thunayan Al-Ghanim, besides KCCI members.

They discussed with His Highness the Amir means of financial reform, as well as Kuwait’s developmental vision in light of oil prices’ decline. The meeting was attended by Deputy Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah. “It is of great honor to me and the members of the Chamber to meet His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah during such critical economic circumstances encountering our country, regarding the decline in oil prices,” Al-Ghanim said. “This requires efforts of all of us, hand in hand with His Highness the Amir in order to set Kuwait in a prominent financial status”, he said “The drop in oil prices has a great impact especially on the State’s budget, as 90 percent of it depends on oil revenues, while many other nations only depend on 50 percent of their oil revenues, and yet has succeeded in their endeavor”, he added. “As representatives of the Chamber, we are working with the private sector to cooperate with His Highness the Amir and the Cabinet in order to reach the proper solutions and alternatives besides oil in order to support our budget and State revenues”, he said. “His Highness the Amir encourages us and has given us all the needed support”, he affirmed.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs and Acting Minister of Electricity and Water Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah emphasized Monday the importance of being dedicated and honest during work for the benefit of the country under the wise political leadership. Sheikh Mohammad made his remarks to reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony hosted by Kuwait Credit Bank marking the debut of “KD 70,000 Real Estate Online Loan.” In response to reporters’ questions, the minister denied that “he has heard anything about decreasing wages”, stressing that he only knew about this through the media, noting that media reports should be objective and accurate and must stay away from negative or destabilizing issues. Sheikh Mohammad added that the message by His Highness the Premier Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Hamad Al-Sabah was clear, noting that all those who are serious and dedicated to work in the government sector are welcome.

On a different front, the minister added that the government is monitoring the economic situation closely with the National Assembly and members of the financial committee, stressing that their upcoming Saturday meeting will include statistics and plans on the country’s full economic reform. In response to a question on cutting expenses, Sheikh Mohammad said measures will only affect electricity projects due to high expenses of these projects, adding that they also have to find ways for cutting expenses on projects that are associated directly with the country’s national development plan. The minister also highlighted ways to improve electronic government, noting that such concept is changing on a daily basis, adding that services will be improved in the future. In another development, the Parliamentary Priorities Committee on Monday discussed the work programs of the ministries of Public Works and Commerce, focusing on the mechanism for implementing projects and the development plan.

Speaking to reporters after the committee meeting, Rapporteur MP Ahmed Lari disclosed they met the representatives of the two ministries, as well as that of the institutions and sectors affiliated to them. He affirmed both ministries presented reports on their projects.

He explained the meeting was divided into two parts: first was with Minister of Public Works and State Minister for National Assembly Affairs Ali Al-Omair who presented a comprehensive report on his ministry and its affiliate institutions such as the Environment Public Authority (EPA) and Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR). He said the minister confirmed the implementation of several projects included in the development plan for fiscal 2015/2016.

He added these projects are currently in the preparatory stage and the approved fund for the ministry reached KD 420,942,700 and it has, so far, spent KD 287,622,168 of this amount; indicating the State Ministry for National Assembly Affairs has five development projects. On the PAAAFR, Lari revealed the authority has, so far, spent KD 1,849,009 out of KD 10,726,000 allocated for the implementation of 10 projects while the approved fund for EPA reached KD 432,313,700 and KD 287,705,177 of which was used for eight projects.

He said the projects which reached the implementation stage include Jaber Bridge (Al-Sabiya Bridge); adding that the approved budget for 2015/2016 development plan is KD 18,000,000 and KD 15,132,460 of which has been utilized while 40.8 percent of the plan has been completed. He affirmed the completion of 60.2 percent of Jamal Abdul- Nasser Road and 55 percent of its fund has been utilized, 74.6 of Jaber Al-Ahmed Hospital has been completed while KD 28,261,795 of its KD 55,000,000 fund was used, in addition to Jahra Road and development of the western part of the Fifth Ring Road.

He clarified the second part of the meeting was allotted for deliberations on the projects of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. He disclosed the approved fund for the ministry is KD 555,000. He said the approved fund for the Public Authority for Industry is KD 38,450,000 and KD 8,544,811 was used, indicating the approved fund for the Public Authority for Encouragement of Direct Investment is KD 425,000 and the authority has spent KD 262,644. He pointed out the Higher Council for Planning and Development has commented on the implementation of projects and legislative requirements of the ministry such as the percentage of expenditure for all projects of the ministry as at Jan 31, 2016. He added the expenditures reached 22 percent of the total investment that is KD 39.4 million.

He said the council also noted delay in implementing projects as the ministry has executed only one out of eight projects with low rate of expenditures — eight percent of the total investment of KD 40,000. Meanwhile, MP Abdul Rahman Al-Jeeran has called for postponement of the application of the Judicial Argument Law in order to activate the Judicial Inspection Law. He argued that enforcement of the Judicial Argument Law requires social maturity and a certain cultural level. Al-Jeeran believes the current degrees of litigation is sufficient to deal with judicial argument materials, noting that the argument system exists in France and some European judiciaries while the regulation should be within the Procedures Law, not the Judicial Argument Law

By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff and Agencies

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