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KUWAIT CITY, June 14: The National Assembly unanimously ratified the bill on amending Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) Law No. 61/1976 with 38 MPs and ministers voting in favor during the first and second readings of the bill in a special session held Tuesday. Joy engulfed retired citizens attending the National Assembly session on Tuesday, following the approval of bill granting them financial assistance worth KD 3,000 (around USD 10,000) each.
A legislative executive collaboration awarded pensioners with the long awaited grant, based on the instructions of the country’s wise political leadership. The bill stipulates KD3,000 incentive and KD20 annual pension increment for retirees. Financial and Economic Affairs Committee Chairman MP Ahmed Al-Hamad responded to the opposition MPs who boycotted the session because they believe the incentive is being used as a tool to blackmail the MPs to push for the approval of PIFSS’ request for KD500 million per year.
He explained the law on the establishment of PIFSS and the Constitution stipulate that the State shall cover the actuarial deficit of the institution to guarantee the continuous payment of pension for retirees. He pointed out the bill states the actuarial deficit of PIFSS will be covered in the form of cash installments and allocating real estate assets for PIFSS to invest according to the regulations such as dividing the investment into two — 50 percent for PIFSS and 50 percent for public subscription. He affirmed the money for covering the deficit will not be taken from the public treasury, because the required amount will come from the reserve fund — a step taken several times in the past to cover deficit amounting to more than a billion Kuwaiti dinars.
On the other hand, Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs Muhammad Al-Rajhi pointed out that about 160,000 retirees who constitute 17 percent of the Kuwaiti population will benefit from the ratified bill. He argued it is impossible to maintain the sustainability of PIFSS without covering the deficit, confirming the government is keen on attending the session as the bill is an urgent issue. Minister of Finance Abdulwahab Al-Rashid denied the allegation that PIFSS will receive KD500 million per year indefinitely, indicating this will be done only until the deficit is fully covered.
Moreover, the Assembly approved the following:
■ Proposal of MPs Abdullah Al- Turaiji, Nasser Al-Doussari, Hesham Al-Saleh and Osama Al-Shaheen for the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee to submit a report on ensuring the fair representation of retirees in the Board of Directors of PIFSS within one month.
■ Proposal for the Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee to conduct a comprehensive study on the recommendation to increase the minimum pension amount and speed up the completion of relevant reports for inclusion in the agenda of the next parliamentary session.
In addition, MP Saleh Zeiab Al- Mutairi submitted a proposal to amend Article One of PIFSS Law to grant KD3,000 annual incentive for retirees and such amount will be given to the heirs in case of the retirees’ death.
Furthermore, the 17 MPs who boycotted the session organized a sit-in at the Assembly building. On their Twitter accounts, the MPs disclosed that they took this step in protest against the supposed disruption of the Constitution, paralysis of political life, manipulation of the citizens’ fortune and political blackmail.
Theses MPs include Thamer Al-Suwait, Abdulkareem Al-Kandari, Khalid Al-Otaibi, Muhannad Al-Sayer, Hamdan Al-Azmi, Abdulaziz Al-Saqaabi, Hassan Jawhar, Al-SaifiMubarak Al-Saifi, Ahmed Mutei Al-Azmi, Fares Al-Otaibi, Mehalhal Al- Mudaf, Abdullah Al-Mudaf, Shuaib Al-Muwaizri, Muhannad Al- Hewailah, Bader Al-Mullah, Soud Bu Sleeb and Mubarak Al-Hajraf. By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff and Agencies