KUWAIT CITY, Oct 6: MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji has warned the government against the sale of the Kuwait International Fairs Company. He said the government has ignored earlier warnings not to sell profit-making establishments and “this has prompted lawmakers to adopt constitutional measures to safeguard the rights of the state and protect public money from being ‘abused’ by some parties.
He wondered why the Minister of Finance does not realize that public money is being tampered with by the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA). He went on to say, “We were surprised by the government insistence to sell profit-making companies, especially at a time when the state budget does not give a bright outlook following the fall in the prices of oil. He pointed out the chief executive of the Kuwait Investment Company (KIC) had recently announced its intention to sell the Kuwait International Fairs Company this month at a profit of KD 8 million, in spite of the fact that the company makes profit and can benefit the state budget. Al-Turaiji said the KIC and the KIA are in a haste to sell off their stakes in the Kuwait International Fairs Company.
He pointed out the total assets of the company is KD 24 million, of which 11 million are in the form of fixed deposits, five million in cash and accounts receivables and eight million in real estate and equipment. He said, “I warn the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Anas Saleh of the danger of selling profitable assets, as happened with the sale of 76 percent of the value of Agricultural Products Company.” He added, the Parliament would take a tough stance if the government continues with its hesitating position and continues to issue conflicting statements from senior officials on this issue.
He added the Kuwait International Fairs Company has made a net profit of KD 18 million according to financial statements over the past five years and the company continues to retain about KD 15 million as posted dividends from earlier years as mentioned in the budget for fiscal year of the company which ended on Dec 31, 2014.
It also benefits from renting 556,000 sq meters of state property at the rate of 250 fils per square meter per year, which means the company pays the state KD 14,643 per year in addition to 30 per cent of sub rental revenues. He wondered why the government is selling profit-making companies instead of the companies that incur losses. He called on the Finance Minister to explain this government approach and prevent waste of state funds, “otherwise the minister will give this explanation elsewhere in Abdullah Al-Salem Hall,” he said.
Meanwhile, several MPs are believed to be standing by their colleagues who intend to submit grilling requests against some ministers who they say have failed to correct their mistakes in spite of all the time they had on their hands to correct them.
MP Jamal Al-Omar said five interpellations will be submitted against ministers of Social Affairs and Labor, Oil, Health, Finance and Commerce. He stressed these ministers were given enough time to reform a number of issues and now it is time to hold them to account. He pointed the role of the MPs is to urge the ministers to carry out reforms and if they fail they must leave and let competent people join the executive team – people who are effective in their work. He believes the step of activating the oversight role of the Parliament in the legislative round has the support of a majority of MPs, calling on the Prime Minister to read the scene very well especially the MPs have shown cooperation in giving the ministers enough time in the past.
For his part, MP Abdullah Al-Mayouf welcomed the steps taken by a number of MPs to grill some ministers who have failed to correct mistakes in some pending issues. He stressed this step is in line with activating the oversight role of the MPs after the ministers were given enough time for performance. He told the ministers that they are not immune to accountability especially since the Parliament has cooperated to a large extent over the past period, but some of the ministers have misunderstood this cooperation. MP Mohammed Tana confirmed there is coordination among the MPs with regards to the interpellations that will be submitted against various ministers. He explained he will submit an interpellation request against the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Sabeeh next week comprising five issues including the Public Authority for Manpower, the Cooperative Societies, the Public Authority for the Handicapped and the Nursery Homes with supporting documents.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff