Monday , December 18 2017

Nod to bill banning fuel price rise – MPs fight back

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 19: The parliamentary financial and economic affairs committee approved on Sunday a bill stipulating ban on new financial fees for the State public services. Such fees must be applicable solely by law endorsed by the National Assembly, according to the blessed bill which also revoked recent decision to raise prices and rates of fuel, electricity and water.

The commission will submit a relevant report to the National Assembly for voting, said the commission rapporteur, MP Safa Al-Hashem, in a statement to journalists. MP Al-Hashem said the proposed law says in its first article, “fees cannot be raised on financial costs of the commodities and the services and the subsidized products provided by the State to the citizens except by power of a law issued by the National Assembly.

Moreover, she has also explained that the bill also says that fuel prices must be fixed at the levels that existed ahead of Sept 1, 2016, without retroactive effect. The bill second term annuls Law No. 20/2016 with regard to specifying the power and water rates.

In another development, Al-Hashem, who was speaking in her capacity as member of the Budgets and Final Accounts Committee, asserted that citizens will fully support the government if it is able to implement its projects. She said 60 percent of governmental projects have zero rate in terms of completion.

Also, she considers the instruction given to the Legislative Committee to deliberate on the Public Officials Appointment Draft Law a legislative mess because this bill is under the jurisdiction of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee. Meanwhile, the Health Committee on Sunday talked about the health insurance for retirees (Afia) and the proposal to add housewives as beneficiaries of the insurance.

Committee member MP Yousef Al- Fadalah affirmed that the Health Ministry’s team agreed on including housewives in the insurance, indicating there is a plan to include other services and segments later. Furthermore, 15 opposition lawmakers — Osama Al-Shaheen, Jaman Al-Harbash, Rakan Al-Nisf, Riyadh Al-Adsani, Safa Al-Hashem, Adel Al- Damkhi, Abdulkareem Al-Kandari, Abdullah Al-Anazi, Abdullah Al-Roumi, Abdulwahab Al-Babtain, Mohammed Al-Barrak Al-Mutair, Marzouq Al-Khalifa, Naif Al-Ajmi, Waleed Al- Tabtabaei and Yousif Al-Fadalah — issued a statement warning the health minister about the prevalence of corruption and continuous deterioration of condition of the health sector.

These lawmakers pointed out they have been following up the situation in the health sector for years, during which they noticed the continuous deterioration of the sector citing overseas treatment anomalies, wastage of public money, manipulation of tenders and building contracts, financial and administrative irregularities according to the reports of the State Audit Bureau and financial controllers.

They urged the minister to hold accountable all officials behind these anomalies, taking into consideration the reports on squandering public money and other violations. They claimed some personalities are trying to protect those involved in corruption in the health sector.

They warned about the dire consequences of succumbing to pressure from unscrupulous individuals, calling on HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah to support the health minister whenever the latter takes measures or issues pro-reform decisions. In the meantime, MP Khalil Al- Saleh has asked the premier and Minister of Finance Anas Al-Saleh to cancel the tender for the second Al-Zour North Power Station Project due to the alleged wastage of public funds.

He stressed the need to investigate the purported irregularities in floating the tender prior to the opening of technical portfolios. He hopes the finance minister will prove he is a statesman in dealing with this matter, adding he has documents to prove wastage of public money in this tender.

 

By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff and Agencies

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