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MP vocal against manpower merger

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 22: MP Saleh Ashour has appealed to the Cabinet not to hasten towards merging the Manpower and Government Restructuring Program (MGRP) with the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) on grounds that they have similar functions. Ashour said this justification is far from reality, especially since experts have stressed the need to refrain from expediting the merger as it will render the previous efforts of MGRP futile since it will be combined with an institution which have completely different objectives.

He pointed out the negative consequences of the merger such as additional burden on the State budget — an excess of KD 6 million annually for salary increments and excellent job performance bonuses estimated at KD 4 million. He warned the citizens might not be willing to work in the private sector if this happens, asserting it is risky to put Kuwaiti private sector employees under an institution which is also in charge of the affairs of expatriate workers.

He urged the government to take into account the opinion of experts who are fully aware of the nature of work and the importance of encouraging citizens to seek employment in the private sector. He added the government should not ignore the fact that the MGRP managers have submitted a memorandum to the Secretary- General voicing their objection to the merger.

He added the government must study the plan thoroughly in order to take appropriate decisions which protect the interests of the people and to lay down the key features for the next phase in order to activate the government’s policy in restructuring the workforce. Meanwhile, the Council of Ministers in its weekly meeting chaired by His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah on Monday, instructed the ministries of Commerce and Social Affairs to closely monitor all markets and cooperative societies to prevent unjustified price hikes once the decision to increase the prices of fuel takes effect next month. Also, Assistant Undersecretary for Commercial and Consumer Protection Affairs in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Eid Al-Rashidi revealed a team of inspectors issued citations against 350 companies and shops for various offenses like commercial fraud, unjustified price hikes, manipulation of expiry dates and countries of origin.

He said this came after the intensive inspection campaigns in compliance with the directive of the Commercial Control Sector to tighten supervision over markets and commercial areas. He affirmed the sector has prepared a detailed report on the erring companies, most of which will be referred to the commercial prosecution. On another issue, MP Rakan Al-Nisf asserted the current crisis in the Overseas Treatment Department is expected considering the government’s failure to hold Health Minister Dr Ali Al-Obaid responsible for subjecting the overseas treatment privilege to political and electoral calculations.

Al-Nisf lamented the department has become a ‘model’ of corruption and public fund wastage; indicating this is a proof of the government’s weakness and confusion in handling affairs of the nation, especially when it defended the minister in the interpellation motion against him. He asserted the overseas treatment issue has tarnished the reputation of Kuwait internationally because the health offices in different countries failed to pay hospital bills. He stressed this might lead to lawsuits against Kuwait, as the Health Ministry sent a large number of citizens for treatment abroad — beyond the estimated annual budget for this purpose.

He also cited media reports on the return of almost 4,000 overseas treatment beneficiaries, which he considers as confirmation that majority of those sent for treatment abroad did not really need treatment as they did so only for tourism. He attributed such malpractices to political and electoral arrangements that were confirmed in the previous report of the State Audit Bureau.

By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff

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