KUWAIT CITY, April 12: The grilling of Commerce and Industry Minister Yusuf Al-Ali by MPs Ahmed Al-Qudaibi and Mubarak Al-Harees on Tuesday did not lead to a noconfidence motion. Kuwaiti members of Parliament and Cabinet ministers also voted to drop the immunity of Shiite MP Abdulhameed Dashti during the Parliamentary session.
Dashti faces charges of offending Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Al-Qudaibi accused the minister of taking decisions single handedly, particularly the decision to return gravel land areas to their owners — a violation of the rules of procedure in the government. During the debate on the interpellation, Al-Qudaibi cited ministerial Decree No. 87/1997 which stipulates conditions for granting a license to import gravel.
He revealed that on Dec 23, 2014 the Land Allocation Commission decided to reclaim seven plots from leasing companies found to have violated regulations and licensing conditions.
He said this decision was published in the official gazette on April 6, 2014. On the other hand, Al-Harees said Law No. 98/2013 on establishing a national fund to support and develop small and medium enterprises was published in the official gazette on April 2, 2013 but the minister issued the executive bylaws only on Jan 4, 2015. He clarified the law was ratified due to the importance of investing in national manpower and diversifying sources of income. He stressed the fund was established to support young Kuwaitis for them to contribute to the economic development of the State, but the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has yet to activate the fund.
He claimed the training courses offered to young entrepreneurs did not achieve the desired results, considering the young entrepreneurs are frustrated as they have to wait for a long time to obtain funding. He went on to allege that the fund has done nothing since the issuance of the regulations although the board of directors has been formed and capital of KD 2 billion has been allocated.
He lamented, “The minister has neglected the Kuwaiti youths and left them to wait for what is rightfully theirs.” He added the Cabinet has allocated plots for small and medium enterprises which will be financed by the fund, but the minister used these plots for other purposes. He said the management expenditures of the fund is now estimated at KD 814,000 yet no money has been allocated for the youths and no work is being done while the Cabinet members continue to receive salaries and financial benefits. He pointed out that he has never seen a minister who procrastinates this much, asserting the Kuwaiti people, especially the youths, are eager to know what the minister is doing. “So many questions, but no answer has been given. Everything is functional, yet nothing is done,” the MP stated.
He added that since the announcement of the interpellation, more than 90 youths have approached the proponents of the grilling in order to ensure all their concerns are addressed. In his response to the grilling point on returning gravel land areas to the owners, Al-Ali explained his functions as a minister includes supervision and oversight. He asserted a minister has power over his ministry and its affiliate bodies in accordance with the Constitution.
He said a company which intends to invest in gravel must do so on land measuring 200,000 square meters — indicating that failure to meet this condition will lead to withdrawal of land allocated for this purpose. He added that in order to help the industrial investors, the ministry eased procedures for handing over the land and storing gravel. He affirmed, “We addressed the real problem — the required size of land as it necessitates availability of money as well, around two million Kuwaiti dinars.”
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim and Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff