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Wednesday , April 1 2020

Fact-finding panel to ‘probe’ violations in social aid sector

al-Sabeeh
al-Sabeeh

KUWAIT CITY, March 11: Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, the State Minister for Planning Affairs and Development Hind Al-Sabeeh affirmed giving the green light to form a fact-finding committee to investigate serious violations in social aid sector, saying the scandal involves misappropriation of millions of dinars and incidents of some social aid beneficiaries owning companies or being board members.

Al-Sabeeh noted the officials in question violated rules and regulations governing the disbursement of social aid to beneficiaries as per regulations. She added the team in charge of reviewing the files detected 650 files affected by wrong disbursement of funds, and the fact-finding committee has also discovered new cases. She stressed that decisions will be taken based on the recommendations of the committee after completing its assignment.

She assured that anybody found guilty among officials, employees and beneficiaries will be punished accordingly. She also pledged the current review of social aid files will not be the end, indicating other files will be opened later to trace wrongdoings and perpetrators.

She indicated violations perpetrated by company owners, shareholders and board members were up to 85 cases, and so concerned officials have been calculating the total amount involved for legal actions to retrieve the money. She added the ministry has since collected vital documents from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to prove that those people actually have stake in the companies, and they have no right to collect social aid.

The minister revealed that some people have been wrongly collecting monthly social aid since 2008, but it was not recorded as debt payable to the government coffers. She pointed out that efforts were ongoing to retrieve KD 2,428,142 from 1,127 people, in addition to 1,331 others whose payments have been suspended until they refund KD 1,517,692. She revealed the officials did not take any legal step over the files of some 27,000 people whose social aid was suspended since 1994 for review to ascertain suspicious violations. She stressed that 1,049 of the files have been reviewed and concluded on the refund of KD 1.5 million.

Meanwhile, the minister has detected another violation concerning 454 people who received double payments from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor and Public Authority for Handicapped Affairs respectively.

The sum involved is KD 1.6 million annually, and the fact-finding committee is still working on other suspicious files to discover all misappropriations and the mode of retrieving funds. In the meantime, Kuwait Women Cultural and Social Society organized in its headquarters a speech festival dubbed “No to work constraint on civil society establishments”, and 76 civil society organizations participated.

In a speech, the Chairperson of Kuwait Women Cultural and Social Society Lulu Al-Mulla stated that all 76 civil society groups participating in the event reject the proposed non-governmental organization bylaw by Hind Al-Sabeeh, the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Planning and Development Affairs. Al-Mulla argued that the law is in violation of constitutional articles and retrains the work of civil society establishments.

He noted the law discerns uniformity of the administration of these establishments and kills the spirit of a team that is able to advance in its work through the implementation of one-vote system. She added the implementation of the proposed law will give the board of civil society establishments’ dominance over the assemblies in terms of dissolving the board, and imposition and appointment of members of government and elected assemblies.

Al-Mulla pointed out that efforts to retrain the work of civil society establishments and dominate them under the cover of general union of civil society establishments, followed by restructuring of establishments and proposing the establishment of an authority for volunteer work, and now comes the law.

By Fares Al-Abdan Al-Seyassah Staff

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