KUWAIT CITY, Nov 8: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is currently working in cooperation with other government agencies to develop an integrated work plan to control and deal with the problem of rising commodity prices in the markets, reports Annahar daily quoting reliable sources.
The sources pointed out the ministry will submit a detailed report to the Cabinet for approval when the new government is formed. According to the same sources, the Minister of Commerce does not have a fixed price ceiling for each commodity, especially since Kuwait is a free economy. However, the sources explained everything has been taken into consideration to address the problem. The sources pointed putting in place a ceiling of prices for all goods is not the solution.
However, the sources indicated the plan of the ministry contains 7 points including:
1. Opening the markets by expanding the base of goods importers.
2. Issuing more import licenses.
3. Activation of the law to prevent monopoly of goods.
4. Law on Commercial Agencies.
5. Application of the law firmly to protect consumers.
6. Allocating more storage facilities.
7. Addressing the problem of workers’ housing.
The sources pointed out there shall be continuous market monitoring throughout the year and other issues that address the problem. He added the plan aims to cut commodity prices between 10-20 percent within a year.
According to the sources, the plan of action is long and requires the cooperation of the Council of Ministers, the National Assembly and traders and support of the consumers to achieve the objectives, especially as the ministry has delayed in addressing this problem.
Meanwhile, the State Audit Bureau (SAB) enumerated in its recent report a number of comments on the records and calculations of Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) for 2016/2017, particularly those related to the environmental fuel and Al-Zour Refinery projects, reports Al-Qabas daily. The bureau’s report revealed that completion of the environmental fuel project was delayed until 2020, whereas the original plan was to finish the project this year.
So far, only 82.5 percent of the project has been completed compared to the original plan to complete 93.6 percent at this point in time, the bureau stressed. It also spotlighted the inaccuracy in specifying requirements and this led to the issuance of 160 variation orders at a cost of KD 26.94 million until the end of March 2017.
The bureau reported that the number of workers assigned in the project decreased by 9,964 as the actual number workers totaled 35,214 labors while the plan was 45,178 and this caused delays in construction works and manufacturing of pipelines.
The bureau mentioned disputes between sub-contractors and the main contractors because the latter got delayed in sending documents which include the technical specifications. Consequently, the work was delayed while the main contractor laid down weekly plans only; thereby, disrupting the work of subcontractors, in addition to the gradual progress of works which needed to be done in a month. The relevant committee responded late to the contractors’ requests, indicating response to one contractor was delayed for 18 months. The bureau drew attention to the failure to impose fine amounting to KD 189,500 on the contractor in charge of Ahmadi refinery specifically unit number 25 and others.
The bureau added in its report the failure to implement the training plan, adding only 5.9 percent of one of the projects was accomplished. Meanwhile, KNPC said it agrees with the bureau’s comments and it is now studying these comments. The company explained the reason behind reduction of workers, saying this is due to the decision of the Ministry of Health to reduce the number of accredited medical test centers in India from 120 to 10.
On the requests of contractors, KNPC disclosed the contractors submitted 10 requests and they were taken into consideration after issuance of variation orders for KD 3 million, clarifying the other requests of contractors are being studied. KNPC added the decision to fine the Ahmadi refinery contractor was implemented in May 2017, but the second fine was postponed until obtaining approval from the higher administration.