DOORS CLOSED FOR HEARING OF STATE’S FINANCIAL STATUS – Legislators vote to stiffen election law

Parliamentarians seen in a light moment during Wednesday’s special session
Parliamentarians seen in a light moment during Wednesday’s special session

KUWAIT CITY, June 22: The Parliament approved, in its special session on Wednesday, three bills on amending National Assembly Election Law No. 35/1962. The proposals include adding a paragraph to Article Two to read as follows: “A citizen convicted of offending God, the Prophets (Peace Be Upon Them) or the Amir through a final court ruling shall not be allowed to contest the elections.”

The amendment bill on Article 31 stipulates inclusion of another paragraph stating, “The voting process will be from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and from 12:00 noon to 12:00 am if held during the holy month of Ramadan.”

Inclusion
In the meantime, the Parliament approved the draft law on the inclusion of university teaching staff on the list of professions exempted from the Civil Service Law in its second deliberation as well as the proposed amendment of Public Authority for Housing Welfare (PAHW) Law No. 37/1993 in its first and second deliberations.

The revised PAHW Law stipulates utilizing the authority’s capital in order to develop its resources and complete the housing projects. Commenting on the proposal, MP Faisal Al-Kandari pointed out the country will save a lot once the bill is implemented, in addition to ensuring the completion of housing projects considering the authority will have ‘golden shares’ in companies. On the other hand, the Parliament discussed the financial status of the State behind closed doors.

Speaking to reporters after the closed-door session, the Parliament speaker said Minister of Finance Anas Al-Saleh presented a report on the State’s financial status for the financial year that ended on March 31, 2016. He disclosed the Budgets Committee and State Audit Bureau have been instructed to submit a report in this regard within three months.

The Parliament then went on to tackle the bureau’s report on the final accounts of several government institutions. Acting Chairman of the bureau Adel Al-Sarawi affirmed that they looked into many positive aspects and serious steps taken by a number of institutions to address the previous comments of the bureau. He was quick to add though that some institutions have yet to respond to the comments.

In its report, the bureau revealed some ministries and government departments have yet to collect fees for services and facilities estimated at KD 510 million.

While the balances of registered funds in the current account continue to increase, the unpaid bills or debts of a number of institutions amounted to KD 1.893 billion by the end of fiscal 2014/2015. Some government agencies delayed the calculation or recording of fees, resulting in uncollected payments estimated at KD 77.5 million and the Ministry of Public Works has the highest amount of uncollected payments amounting to KD 52.5 million.

Also, irregularities were uncovered in the overseas medical treatment expenses of Kuwait’s Military Office in London – around 36 million Sterling pounds. This is in addition to the weakness of internal oversight the transfer of payments for cultural offices abroad amounting to KD 10 million, as well as KD 28 million spent on treatment and financial allocations for outpatients.

Furthermore, some employees at Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA) are suspected of taking bribes considering that funds withdrawn from May 2004 to March 2013 amounted to KD 20.8 million. The report mentioned that the payment of three million Euros to the Medical Academy which signed an agreement on the development of Al-Razi Hospital is considered a burden to the national budget due to failure to abide by the stipulations of the contract. It also pointed out damages and theft in new schools which are being constructed by the Ministry of Public Works in Khairan residential area due to negligence.

It added that money allocated for the construction of classrooms in Ahmadi Educational District has been wasted because of failure to provide electricity for a period of four years. The bureau noticed repetition of public money wastage in the ministries of Health, Public Works, Electricity, Communication, Interior, Finance, Oil and Education.

Lastly, the Parliament approved the request of the Public Prosecution to lift the immunity of MP Abdul Hameed Dashti in relation to the State security and press misdemeanor cases filed against him.

By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff

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