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Grilling up for Tuesday session

Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 20: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim confirmed in a press conference Monday that the grilling motion submitted by MP Dr Adel Al-Damkhi against Minister of Social Affairs Ghadeer Aseeri will be discussed in the regular session slated for Tuesday.

Al-Ghanim disclosed that Tuesday’s session will start with the reading of the minutes of the previous session, incoming letters and parliamentary questions.

Talking about the grilling of Asseri, Al-Ghanim affirmed the minister will stand on the grilling podium; considering the grace period stipulated in the Constitution for the concerned minister to request for any other action like postponement of the grilling has ended. He revealed items in the agenda for the session include the MPs’ response to the Amiri speech, government program and urgent draft laws.

He admitted that he knows some individuals are keen on disrupting the session by instigating disputes, but was quick to emphasize that he knows well how to deal with them within the framework of the Constitution.

Earlier, he met with the National Assembly Office where priorities were defined such as the discussion of urgent draft laws.

Meanwhile, Improving Business Environment Committee Chairman MP Yousef Saleh Al-Fadala revealed in a press statement that the committee on Sunday discussed a number of issues with representatives of the relevant public institutions such as the Ministry of Interior, Kuwait Municipality, and Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR).

They deliberated on the issue of mobile businesses and places allocated for them in order to prevent negative consequences. He added the committee also tackled the mobile printing kiosks in front of the service centers at the Ministry of Interior.

He said the traditional printing and typing centers were demolished last summer and were replaced with mobile kiosks which disturb citizens and expatriates who are completing transactions in the service centers. He affirmed the representatives of the Ministry of Interior promised to remove the mobile kiosks and that the traditional centers will be installed once again. He went on to say the committee deliberated on the seasonal markets issue in the presence of the representatives of PAAAFR and the Municipal Council.

In another development, more MPs have responded to the announcement of Minister of Finance and acting Minister of Economic Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel regarding the budget deficit. MP Abdulwahab Al-Babtain issued a press statement criticizing the announcement of the budget without holding a meeting with the parliamentary Budgets and Final Accounts Committee and without an agreement on the oil price which is the basis for laying down the budget. He raised doubt on the figures not only in the recent budget but also that of the previous years.

He pointed out the estimated budget for fiscal 2016/2017 was KD 18.8 billion while the actual was KD 17.7 billion, indicating the difference between the projected and actual budgets was huge – KD 1.1 billion. He asserted this difference is repeated in the successive budgets and this implies lack of serious studies on the budget.

He strongly criticized Al-Aqeel’s disclosure that the ministries asked for a budget of KD 27.5 billion for this fiscal year, but it was reduced to KD 22.5 billion after discussing the budget with them. He argued this is not the right way to determine the public budget; adding that in advanced countries, every ministry specifies its budget according to its programs, needs and projects.

If there is deficit, as the Ministry of Finance claims, there are many solutions other than targeting the citizens’ pockets through reduction of salaries or implementing laws that allow the government to obtain loans. Al-Aqeel knows that many ministers hire consultants for huge contracts while citizens bear the negative consequences of poor services offered to them like education, health and roads, the lawmaker added. He suggested the government should collect the KD 20 billion profits seized by public bodies and transfer this amount to the public reserve fund in order to cover the deficit. He also stressed the need for the government to collect debts amounting to KD 1.3 billion.

MP Saleh Ashour has accused the government of deceiving citizens when it referred to the first chapter of the budget as the chapter for salaries, because this chapter consists of nine items – one of which is for salaries. He said the government is manipulating figures if it claims that salaries constitute 71 percent of the budget, indicating the total amount of salaries for citizens is KD 5.5 billion – 25 percent of the total budget. He added the government granted around KD 2.315 billion to more than 50 countries, while the total value of citizens’ loans is KD 1.250 billion.

Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff

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