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Resignation rated ‘credit negative’

MOODY’S SEES LIKELY DELAYS IN REFORM PROSPECTS

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 21: The resignation of Kuwait’s Cabinet will likely add to legislative delays, further weakening reform prospects, says a report by Moody’s.

According to the rating agency, developments in Kuwait are likely to slow its already glacial pace of legislative proceedings, a credit negative.

Consultations concerning the formation of the new government have already begun, and the names of the ministers are expected to be revealed soon, reports Al-Anba daily quoting informed sources.

They explained that the new government will have at least five new ministers including three members of the ruling family to assume responsibility of Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Sheikh Abdullah Nawaf Al-Ahmad tops the list of nominees most expected to take up the position of Minister of Defense. If he is appointed, he will be the First Deputy Prime Minister.

Those nominated for taking up the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs include Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Muhammad and Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali. Sheikh Thamer Ali Sabah Al-Salem is one of the nominees for the position of Minister of Interior.

The State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh will continue in his present office and he will not be the Minister of Interior as the situations indicate that a member of the ruling family will occupy this position.

A limited reshuffling of the Cabinet members will be carried out for the positions of Minister of Education and Higher Education, Minister of Information, Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, Minister of Health, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Minister of Justice, Minister of Oil and State Minister for National Assembly Affairs.

The sources revealed that consultations are ongoing to appoint a Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Housing Affairs, adding that they are expecting a new minister to be appointed as Minister of Finance.

Meanwhile, other sources indicated that two MPs are expected to be appointed as ministers. MP Ahmad Al-Fadhl has called on HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al- Sabah to lay down a plan, including the tasks of the government in the current stage and procedures to achieve objectives.

After taking these steps, HH the Prime Minister should select ministers who will achieve the objectives; while it is important to ensure that the ministerial nominees have no problems among themselves so they can work together in realizing goals set by the premier, the lawmaker suggested. He said the effort being exerted to force the premier to push for amnesty or cooperation is tantamount to opening the door for crisis which some lawmakers desire, because they believe that dissolution of the Parliament is in their electoral interest.

He added: “In my case, dissolving the Parliament does not serve my electoral interest, as well as the bills which I submitted, so my aspiration contradicts theirs.” He stressed these lawmakers made certain achievements and laws, he focuses on legislation and citizen-centered laws.

He said these lawmakers are wishing for parliamentary dissolution to guarantee their reelection, indicating “they want to succeed in the elections alongside their associates so they can form the majority for trouble making.”

He reiterated: “Everybody is fighting for his cause as they are fighting for their goal so we are doing the same for ours. Nobody will stop others from grilling the premier based on the law that empowers every lawmaker to do so. It is their right to submit grilling and it is equally our rights as colleagues in the Parliament to determine the appropriate time for it. Therefore, no lawmaker has the right to impose his grilling inquest on the agenda. The Parliament has the right to refer any grilling to the Parliament Office which will then set an appropriate date in agreement with the concerned lawmaker.”

Meanwhile, Al-Fadhl warned governmental authorities against failure to implement a clear mechanism for the labor market to accommodate more than 250,000 Kuwaiti youths who will graduate in the next seven years.

He said the country will face a disaster in case this mechanism is not put in place; considering the ability of the government to accommodate about 100,000 at the current stage.

He argued there is a big difference between potential graduates and the ability to employ them. He asserted, “For instance; if there are 36,000 graduates per year, the total number of graduates later will reach 250,000. Is the government ready to provide job opportunities for these graduates?”

He revealed some companies have monopolized food supply, prompting the Competition Protection Council to take steps against them. He said these companies have taken over contracts by adding clauses in their favor, and the council addressed such violation on Nov 5.

He added two companies have broken the monopoly, and “we welcome them to the Kuwaiti market. They have 100 percent right to operate in the local market, offering better services away from monopoly.”

The parliamentary Budget and Final Accounts Committee discussed the government’s finances for fiscal 2018/2019 in its recently concluded meeting, during which the Ministry of Finance presented its report highlighting the most important factors.

Committee Chairman MP Adnan Abdul Samad disclosed these factors include the poor performance of financial institutions, longevity of employees, and failure to implement the Oracle software in most governmental institutions.

Therefore, the committee stressed the need to prioritize the training of employees in financial institutions as this will pave way for a similar directive in non-financial governmental authorities.

Abdul Samad also pointed out that salaries and associated costs are considered the biggest expenditure of the government, reaching KD 11.4 billion out of the KD 21.8 billion total expenditure in fiscal 2018/2019.

Moreover, many governmental authorities are circumventing standard regulations by employing under the article of compensation for State contracts and services – some of which are still active although the contracts have ended. Furthermore, the ministry’s presentation showed that it spent 96 percent of its approved budget; retaining approximately KD 924 million and most of which come from capital expenditure.

This is in spite of the committee’s directive to approve capital for State projects before any other expenditure in order to ensure progress in this area. Results have proven the opposite as several tenders remain unattended and projects are delayed; especially in the ministries of health, public work, water and electricity.

Talking about deficit, Abdul Samad said the State deficit reached KD 23 billion; making 2018/2019 the fifth fiscal year in a row that the country suffers from deficit being covered by its general reserves.

On State revenues, the MP disclosed that 90 percent of the total revenues come from the oil sector (KD 18.4 billion); surpassing expectations as the average oil price reached $64.4 per barrel compared to the expected price of $55 dollars based on analysis of the 2017/2018 final accounts.

By Ahmed Al-Naqeeb, Abdul-Rahman Al-Shammari and Agencies

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