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Government submits draft law on borrowing to cover deficit – MP renews impound queries

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 18: The government has submitted a draft law on obtaining loans from international and local financial institutions to address the State’s budget deficit, says Rapporteur of Financial and Economic Affairs Committee in the National Assembly MP Saleh Ashour.

However, Ashour argued that there are alternatives for the government before resorting to borrowing, such as utilizing funds of government investment agencies. He said these funds should be directed to the general budget of the State.

He pointed out Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) is responsible for investments while surplus from investments must be transferred to the general budget, clarifying that other government entities are not authorized to invest.

It is worth mentioning that the draft law which the government referred to the National Assembly stipulates the need to grant permission to the government to obtain public loans and financing from local and international financial institutions within a period of not more than 20 years and the amount should not exceed KD 25 billion.

The draft law consists of eight articles on borrowing from local and international banks, stating the loan payment period is 30 years starting from the date of finalizing the loan contract. It also stipulates that the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) shall act on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, in coordination and consultation with the finance minister, to conclude, manage and execute general loan contracts and financing operations in Kuwaiti dinars or other currencies according to the accepted financial methods and instruments.

It mandates Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) to act on behalf of the Ministry of Finance and in coordination with the minister of finance in order to conclude, manage and implement general loan contracts and major foreign currency convertible transactions in various international financial institutions with recognized financial instruments.

The draft law allows the Ministry of Finance to fulfill its obligations to government agencies, public institutions and the like by issuing bonds, ‘sukouk’ or instruments and borrowing or direct financing from financial or other institutions and conventional financial instruments; indicating the Finance Ministry shall set the appropriate amount paid in these cases. Meanwhile, MP Riyadh Al-Adsani has forwarded questions to acting Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid Al- Jarrah Al-Sabah about the legality of the decision to impound a vehicle if the driver is caught using mobile phone by hand while driving or if the driver and front seat passenger are not wearing seatbelts.

Al-Adsani clarified he appreciates the role of the Ministry of Interior in reducing the number of traffic accidents, emphasizing that lawmakers support the ministry if it implements laws in a structured manner in line with international standards. He said the purpose of activating or amending laws is to improve the situation, maintain the traffic system, and ensure justice and fairness; rather than taking steps arbitrarily or instigating chaos.

He argued it is better to increase fines and apply the points system to punish drivers who commit violations. He wants to know from the constitutional and legal points of view whether the Ministry of Interior based on a ministerial decision, instead of decree number 67/1976 on traffic and its amendments in Chapter Seven – General Provisions, the move to impound vehicles of motorists caught using mobile phone by hand while driving or if the driver and front seat passenger are not wearing seatbelts although this is not mentioned in the Traffic Law.

He asked if decree number 67/1976 gives the ministry the authority to issue ministerial decrees and add new items to existing decrees. He also inquired if the ministry carried out a study which led to the implementation of the decision to impound vehicles for a period not exceeding two months for the abovementioned violations.

He asked, “Why didn’t the ministry increase fines for these violations instead of impounding vehicles?” He wants to know if the ministry took into consideration the emergency situations or exceptional circumstances that might have prompted the driver to use mobile phone by hand while driving or not wear seatbelts, if the owner of the vehicle is subject to the penalty rather than the person who committed the violation, who is responsible for compensating the owner of the vehicle if it is damaged during impounding operations, and if the entity or entities that impound vehicles and collect fees for keeping the vehicles are under the ministry or public or private companies. If private companies, he demanded for the names of these companies and their owners. He asked about the procedures for allocating a garage for impounded vehicles and tow trucks, while requesting for copies of approvals and supporting documents in this regard.


By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff

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