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MPs wrestle with state budget cuts – Legislators press for 20% reduction

KUWAIT CITY, May 23: The Parliamentary Budget and Final Accounts Committee discussed Monday the estimated budgets of ministries and other government departments for fiscal 2016/2017, in the presence of Finance Minister and acting Oil Minister Anas Saleh.

Committee Chairman MP Adnan AbdulSamad said they looked into the ability of Finance Ministry to reduce expenditures in the State’s general budget by 20 percent. He said the ministry welcomed the committee’s decision on the 20 percent reduction but it seems not happy with the percentage.

He added the ministry justified its reservation over the percentage of reduction by pointing out that 70 percent of the general budget is allocated for salaries and invitations while it is not possible to reduce Chapter Four due to its link with projects included in the development plan.

He went on to clarify that the ministry feels the appropriate reduction rate is 15 percent. He asserted the ministry should study the budgets allocated for projects and assess the operational capability of the concerned institutions rather than depending on the statements of officials.

Meanwhile, the Health Committee has amended some provisions of Private Sector Labor Law No. 6/2010 and referred the amendment bill to the Parliament for inclusion in the agenda of Tuesday’s session. Without elaborating, committee Rapporteur MP Sadoun Hammad Al-Otaibi stated they discussed the government’s draft laws and made certain modifications by taking into consideration the proposals of MPs.

In response to the request of the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the committee postponed deliberations on draft laws regarding health insurance for foreigners and fees for health services until these bills are amended in a bid to address issues related to diplomats and guests of Kuwait, Al-Otaibi explained.

He said the committee also looked into several bills on the health insurance for Kuwaiti retirees but talks on these proposals were also postponed as per the request of the Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, MP Faisal Al-Kandari has unveiled his plan, along with some of his colleagues, to submit a bill on assigning securitymen in commercial complexes to protect the public from unscrupulous young people who have no sense of responsibility.

He clarified the securitymen at the Interior Ministry are doing their part in maintaining the security and safety in all places, but the bill stipulates conducting special training courses for officers who will be tasked to protect people in shopping malls and tourism spots. He added the bill includes fines and prison terms for anybody who provokes and causes public brawls and those who carry sharp objects and bladed weapons in shopping malls and tourism centers.

He cited the killing of a doctor in the Avenues Mall and an expatriate in Marina Complex, as well as public brawls during weekends and holidays. He stressed that maintaining public security is an integral part of their work as MPs, particularly since the current Parliament has enacted the Surveillance Cameras Law to tighten security and prevent crimes.

Moreover, MPs said the patronage and attendance of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in the opening of the new legislative building on May 24, 2016 is a historic event. They pointed out this reflects the Amir’s keenness in supporting parliamentary work and developing the democratic practice.

They expressed great admiration for the building, which is considered an architectural masterpiece and a modern democratic edifice in Kuwait; while expressing gratitude to National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim and those who supervised completion of the building — MPs Adel Al-Kharafi , Ahmed Lari and Faisal Al-Shaya.

By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff

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