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Sunday , January 29 2023

Drilling, earthquakes not linked

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‘Rationalize oil sector spending’

KUWAIT CITY, June 8: MP Hesham Al-Saleh has submitted a bill on specifying the areas for the headquarters of embassies or consulates of various countries, taking into consideration that such buildings are banned in residential areas as per the regulations of Kuwait Municipality. In his proposal, Al-Saleh explained that the Municipality shall coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in specifying the areas for the embassies or consulates to establish their headquarters. If such structures are currently located in residential areas, they will be relocated once the bill takes effect, he added.

MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji has proposed the establishment of citizen service centers in the headquarters of the Public Authority for Sports and Kuwait Olympic Committee to provide services to the sports clubs. He added the working hours of these centers will be specified through the coordinated efforts of the Public Authority for Sports, Kuwait Olympic Committee and Ministry of Interior. Meanwhile, Chairman of the parliamentary Budgets and Final Accounts MP Adnan Abdulsamad disclosed that they discussed the estimated budget of Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation (KNPC) for fiscal 2022/2023 with the representatives of KNPC and senior oil sector officials. He said the estimated revenues of KNPC reached KD 24 billion — 50 percent higher than the previous fiscal year as a result of raising oil production and oil price hikes; while the expenditures are estimated at KD 23.1 billion — also 50 percent higher than the previous fiscal year due to the increase in the price of a barrel of oil that KNPC buys from the State and the estimated net profit is KD 823 million.

During the discussion, they agreed that the estimated budget is no longer feasible due to the conservative view on oil prices, exaggerated projection of expenditures, and failure of KNPC to implement its development strategies. Therefore, Abdulsamad stressed the need to adjust the estimated budget to be more realistic; pointing out the Ministry of Finance intends to increase the estimated price of oil from $65 to $80 per barrel for fiscal 2022/2023. He believes this will narrow the gap between the estimated and actual budgets of KNPC. He attributed the wide gap between expenditures and revenues to the delayed completion of some projects and launching of other projects like the environmental fuel and Zour Refinery.

He went on to reveal that the actual works of KNPC decreased by 94 percent in the last 10 years, recording KD95 million in fiscal 2020/2021; while the operational profit in the same period declined by 31 percent, recording a loss of KD228 million. He added that KNPC attributed this decline to the collapse of oil prices during the Covid-19 crisis. He then argued that the revenues of KNPC started decreasing even before the Covid-19 crisis, asserting this is the result of a remarkable increase in operational expenditures — 60 percent in the last 10 years. He said they recommended the formation of a committee that will be tasked to rationalize expenditures in order to guarantee the stability of KNPC.

On the earthquake that hit the country recently, Abdulsamad said the committee asked KNPC to prove that its oil production activities have nothing to do with the earthquake. He quoted the representatives of KNPC as saying that the drilling works do not exceed a depth of two kilometers and such depth does not cause earthquakes. The KNPC representatives also affirmed that they are not using hydraulic drills, pointing out this method is used in the United States of America for fossil fuel production. They added there are no records showing a relationship between hydraulic drilling and earthquakes.

On the other hand, MP Khalid Al-Otaibi described the decision of Health Minister Dr Khalid Al-Saeed to relocate the Infectious Diseases Hospital from Sabah Health District to Jahra Hospital as a medical and administrative blunder. He argued the Infectious Diseases Hospital should remain in Sabah Health District, because it is accessible to all citizens from different parts of the country. He said Jahra is very far for those residing in the South and interior areas including Kuwait City. He warned that the relocation could pose a threat to the patients at Jahra Hospital, especially those who have been confined at the hospital for a long time as most of them are suffering from chronic diseases; hence, their immune system is very weak, making them more vulnerable to infection. He urged the minister to cancel the decision, taking into consideration the opinions of specialists in the interest of patients. He called for establishing hospitals exclusive for patients suffering from infectious diseases in every governorate. In another development,

MP Mehalhal Al-Mudaf forwarded queries to Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr Ali Fahd Al-Mudaf about the ranking of Kuwait compared to other Gulf countries in terms of the quality of education. He requested for information on the classification of Kuwait in global education indexes, budget for education in the last fiscal year, and cost of services provided to Kuwaiti students in public schools. MP Homoud Mebrek Al-Azmi asked the minister about the decision to suspend the scholarship program for Dentistry students in Arab countries and if the Ministry of Health was consulted before taking such decision. He demanded for copies of correspondences between the ministries of Higher Education and Health in this regard.

Moreover, National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim had a meeting with Regional Director of the World Bank in the Gulf Essam Abu Sulaiman recently. MP Obaid Al-Wasmi and Director of the World Bank Office in Kuwait Ghassan Al- Khouja attended the meeting, during which they discussed various issues. By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff

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