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Democracy threatened – Minister blamed for rift in govt, Assembly

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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 30: Chairman of the parliamentary Financial and Economic Affairs Committee MP Shuaib Al-Muwaizri said some parties in the government are keen on terminating democracy in the country by pushing for the resignation of the executive authority, dissolution of the National Assembly and suspension of the Constitution. In a press statement Monday, he revealed that the committee received the response of the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) to its queries on the loans of citizens; indicating the total amount of loans reached KD14.7 billion — KD1.747 billion consumer loans and KD12.974 billion housing loans.

“The Central Bank stated that most of the borrowers are paying on time; hence, the Loans Purchase Bill is no longer necessary, and that it will just be an additional burden for the State treasury. The government did not respond to the committee under the pretext that the bill will harm the treasury, although there is no additional cost since the loan amount is equal to the KD120 monthly cost of living allowance granted to citizens. It ignored the committee instead of attending meetings to present other solutions like increasing salaries or writing off the loan interest. It destroys relations with the Assembly and does not respect the Constitution,” he added.

Talking about the committee’s report on the proposal to amend the law on establishing Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), he disclosed the committee stressed the need to take the following steps:
● Prevent KCCI from acting like it is above the law,
● Transfer the collected subscription fees to the State treasury,
● Cancelling the arbitration center at KCCI,
● Stop the representation of KCCI in public institutions.

He added that during the committee meeting held on Jan 17, the representatives of KCCI promised to present an alternative bill; but nothing has been done until now. He went on to say that for more than 60 years, governments have had an alliance with KCCI and urged the next government to try a better alliance; that is, with the people of Kuwait. He added the resignation of the government is aimed at killing democracy in the country, not due to lack of cooperation on the part of the Assembly.

On the proposal to increase the minimum pension, he confirmed that the committee received the response of the Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS); stating the latter will approve the proposal only if the cost will be covered by the State treasury. “PIFSS told the committee that this proposal does not guarantee equality and justice for all, and that it has a better proposal.

The committee asked PIFSS to submit its proposal, but nothing has been submitted so far,” he added. On the Zero Interest Loans for Retirees Bill, he said PIFSS rejected the bill due to the alleged risks like the death of the beneficiary before the full payment of the loan. He confirmed that PIFSS has an alternative bill, but it has yet to be submitted to the committee. He believes the corrupt and their agents are hostile towards the Assembly, because the latter opened discussions on corruption including the Karacal aircraft and Eurofighter deals among others. He affirmed the Assembly is keen on pushing for the punishment of whoever has been involved in corruption since 1992.

He added the committee invited the lawmakers who proposed the cancellation of Article 80 of the law on establishing PIFSS, which stipulates exceptional salaries and pension for the military personnel in Kuwait Army, Ministry of Interior and Kuwait Firefighting Force; families of martyrs; senior officials at Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation (KNPC), Amiri Diwan and Office of His Highness the Prime Minister; diplomats; ministers and lawmakers. He said the committee is pushing for the amendment of this article to prevent its misusage without harming the rightful beneficiaries, indicating some parties claimed that lawmakers are among the beneficiaries in order to distort the latter’s image and that of the Assembly.

He clarified that lawmakers are paying their social security contributions before and during their term at the Assembly. He added that in case of dissolution or by the end of the parliamentary term, lawmakers are exempted from the specified number of years in service to receive pension. He thinks some parties are mixing up the issue of illegally obtained exceptional salaries and exemption from certain regulations like the case of lawmakers who do not receive a salary after leaving the Assembly. He stressed that under such circumstances, lawmakers receive pension legally, not exceptional salaries.

He claimed Minister of Finance Abdulwahab Al-Rashead is the main reason behind the deterioration of relations between the government and Assembly; considering the minister took advantage of the absence of the executive and legislative authorities to settle the deal on Kuwait Financial House’s acquisition of the shares of Ahli United Bank. He added the minister is now trying to set the general assembly of Kuwait Finance House at an earlier date to take advantage of the resignation of the government. He also highlighted the speeches of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah who repeatedly stressed the need to fully abide by the Constitution.

Meanwhile, MP Mubarak Al-Tasha has submitted a proposal for Kuwait Credit Bank (KCB) to postpone the collection of housing loan installments from the beneficiaries of Mutlaa Housing City and continue the payment of their rent allowance until the provision of electricity and other basic services to their housing units.

On the other hand, MP Osama Al-Shaheen asked Minister of Finance Abdulwahab Al-Rashead if Kuwait intends to grant more loans to Egypt in response to the request of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which had earlier urged Gulf countries to provide financial aid to Egypt amounting to $14 billion. He also inquired about the total amount of Kuwaiti deposits in the Central Bank of Egypt, loan due date and amount paid so far. By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff

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