KUWAIT CITY, May 25: The National Assembly approved the proposal to amend the Municipality Law in its first deliberation on Wednesday. The amended law was referred to the Public Utilities Committee which will prepare a report before the second deliberation.
Speaking on the sidelines of the parliamentary debate on the bill, Minister of Communications and State Minister for Municipality Affairs Issa Al- Kandari disclosed the government’s amendment bill aims to eliminate overlapping jurisdiction between Kuwait Municipality and other bodies, modify penalties stipulated in the municipality regulations, and organize the Municipal Council.
He pointed out that there have been many social and economic changes since the enactment of the law in 2005, such as population growth and development of new cities throughout the country. He said there were changes in the government administration as well; hence, the establishment of new bodies like the public authorities for environment, roads, transport, food and nutrition whose functions overlapped with that of the Municipality.
He explained the application of the law and overlapping of jurisdiction proved that the penalties stipulated in the municipality regulations do not serve as deterrent. He said this has prompted the government to propose amendment of the law in order to address loopholes, keep pace with the latest developments, and eliminate the overlapping functions between the Municipality and other government entities.
He revealed the most significant amendments are related to the organization and formation of the Municipal Council, number of its members, organizing membership requirements, and allocation of areas in the 10 constituencies to be added to the table of constituencies in line with the structural development.
He added the revised version of the law also includes provisions on the organization of the Municipal Council and Secretariat, convening the first session, and nomination and election of the chairman and his deputy. He said the amended law states that the fine for violating building regulations should not be less than KD5,000 and not more than KD10,000 along with removal of the structure found to be in violation of the regulations.
This is in addition to a fine of not less than KD1,000 and not more than KD10,000 along with removal of the structure proven to be a violation of regulations for investment, commercial and industrial buildings.
He went on to say the revised law allows the Municipality to remove structures where violations were found but the owners should bear the cost in case they fail to take the necessary action. He explained the amendments clearly stipulate ways to cite violations in private houses, such as obtaining permission from an investigation body for police offi cers to enter the house.
He confirmed the amended law includes a paragraph granting the director general of the Municipality or his representative the right to order cutting electricity and water connections in structures where violations are uncovered, in coordination with the concerned authorities.
During the discussion on the proposal, MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan asserted it is now time to stop violations of municipality regulations, as such actions should no longer be regarded as the norm while those following the law are considered ignorant. He hopes the amended law will curb, if not eliminate, the violations.
The MPs agreed that there are numerous faults and errors in the Municipality which, sadly, are the roots of other issues in the country. For that reason, MP Mohammed Tanna believes the reformation of the Municipality will resolve a number of issues. He argued it is unacceptable that the Municipality allows a citizen to build a four or five-storey house only to notify him later that he violated the building regulations. He also cited the haphazard disposal of garbage, indicating that sanitation in the country is very poor – an issue deeply rooted in the State Ministry for Municipality Affairs.
Furthermore, Rapporteur of the Public Utilities Committee MP Saoud Al-Huraiji stated today’s debate on the proposed amendment is innovative because the inputs of the concerned bodies and individuals in the government and private sectors were taken into consideration.
Also, when a number of MPs requested to end the debate and jump straight to voting, which was rejected by the Assembly, MP Khaleel Abdullah pointed out Article 37 of the Constitution stipulates maintaining the sanctity of residential units and no one should enter these structures without seeking permission from the owner, unless the action is necessary as per the law. He stressed the current Municipality Law does not address this matter as it allows the Municipality employees to enter residential units without any legal basis, so he underscored the need to address this flaw.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim and Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff