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KUWAIT CITY, June 8: Speaker of the National Assembly Marzouq Al-Ghanim confirmed Thursday the approval of the 2017/2018 State budget and the final accounts of ministries and government departments for fiscal 2015/2016.
Al-Ghanim made the announcement after the closed door session turned public. Initially, the session was held behind closed doors in response to the request of the government to deliberate on the financial status of the country in accordance with Article 150 of the Constitution and Article 69 of the parliamentary bylaws. Article 150 of the Constitution states, “The government submits to the National Assembly, at least once during the ordinary session, a statement on the financial position of the State.” Article 69 of the parliamentary bylaws stipulates that the National Assembly sessions are public and a closed-door session is held upon the request of the government, Parliament Speaker or at least 10 members.
Al-Ghanim disclosed that Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh, together with a team of technocrats, made a presentation on the financial status of the country for the financial year ending March 31, 2017. Expenses in the 2017/2018 budget of ministries and government departments were estimated at KD 19.9 (about $65.7 billion) and revenues at KD 13.3 billion (about $43.9 billion) — 30 percent higher than the previous year; while the deduction for the Future Generations Fund was estimated at KD 1.3 billion (about $4.2 billion).
The estimated revenues for 2017-2018 include KD 11.7 billion ($38.6 billion) from the oil sector based on the oil price $45 per barrel and KD 1.6 billion ($5.2 billion) from the non-oil sector. On the other hand, the budget deficit was estimated at KD 7.9 billion (around $26.1 billion) which will be covered from the general financial reserves of the country. Meanwhile, the Assembly approved the 2015/2016 final account and linking budget for fiscal 2017/2018 of the Public Institution for Social Security with 36 out of 55 lawmakers voting in favor. The revenues of the institution for fiscal 2017/2018 were estimated at KD 4.56 billion ($15.05 billion) and its expenditures at KD 2.97 billion ($9.81 billion).
The Assembly also approved the 2015/2016 final accounts and 2017/2018 linking budgets of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and its subsidiaries, Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), the State’s financial administration and government departments.
The Assembly also agreed on submitting the State’s financial status to the State Audit Bureau which, in turn, will present a report in this regard to the legislature and the Budgets and Final Accounts Committee.
In a related development, Chairman of the Budgets and Final Accounts Committee MP Adnan Abdulsamad revealed the State Audit Bureau recorded 2,200 remarks on various government authorities. He attributed the budget deficit to the continuous decline of oil prices, citing the low price of oil for four consecutive years that resulted in accumulated deficit of KD 26 billion and KD 8.6 billion of which is real deficit. He clarified that despite the improvement in the estimated price of oil in the new fiscal year — $45 per barrel, the deficit is estimated at KD 7.9 billion.
He disclosed the oil income still accounts for 88 percent of the country’s revenues, the number of State administrative entities totaled 110, the attached and independent government bodies have 32 boards of directors, and the government system consists of 62 with the rank of minister in the budgets of ministries and government departments.
Furthermore, the Speaker officially announced the parliamentary recess starting from Thursday and it will resume in October 2017. In his closing speech, Al- Ghanim stressed the need to maintain national unity in line with the directive of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. He thanked members of the legislative and executive authorities, particularly HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and the ministers for the efforts they exerted during this legislative round; in addition to the Deputy Speaker and National Assembly office members for assisting him in managing parliamentary affairs, as well as the parliamentary secretary and employees at the Secretariat General for their hard work. On the other hand, the prime minister expressed gratitude to HH the Amir for his efforts in “healing the rift in the Gulf House.” He conveyed his and the ministers’ sincere sentiments for the good of the country. He praised the legislature for its achievements, affirming that the government fully cooperates with the Assembly in serving the nation. He added, “The democracy that we accepted as our method and system is the choice of Kuwait.”
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff