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Wednesday , July 17 2019

State budget deficit at 64% … MPs mull solutions – Economic reforms key

An aerial view of Kuwait taken in the morning recently
An aerial view of Kuwait taken in the morning recently

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 7: The State budget deficit has reached 64 percent thus efforts at various levels must be exerted to remedy the Kuwaiti economy, a higher authority affirmed on Sunday. Nasser Al-Roudhan, Chairman of the Economic Development Committee at the Supreme Economic Planning Council, indicated in a statement at the National Assembly headquarters that he held talks with officials of the Assembly’s Bureau, dealing with the economic situation and effects of the oil prices’ fall on it. “We are all in the same boat with respect of the economic reforms and for sake of averting further repercussions,” he stated. He stressed on necessity of team work, conducting economic reforms, “with minimum effects on citizens and maintaining their income,” however “the reforms must begin now for time is not in our favor.”

The Bureau, headed by the National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Ali Al-Ghanim held a broad meeting today with the commission members. It was attended by Minister of Social Affairs, Labor, Minister of State for Planning Affairs and Development Dr Hind Al-Sabeeh, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah and Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs and Minister of Public Labor Dr Ali Al-Omair.

The legislators and officials discussed issues related to the economic conditions, means of tackling the State budget deficit, in shadow of the bearish oil prices. The members’ views regarding governmental proposals on how to address these files were examined.

During the meeting, Al-Omair pointed out that gasoline and electricity are just part of the rationalization process. He explained they did not only focus on increasing gasoline prices or cancelling subsidies for electricity and water, because these were just cited as examples. “If the right fees are imposed on areas where wastage is observed, that could be another way of rationalizing expenditures,” he argued.

He asserted the discussion on these matters was merely part of a whole – the Kuwaiti economy and methods for rectifying imbalances. He affirmed the Ministry of Public Works, like other State institutions, is keen on rationalizing expenses and ending wastage in various areas. Asked about the airport tender reviewed by the State Audit Bureau, Al- Omair confirmed the formation of a committee to study the comments of the bureau.

He looks forward to fi nding a solution that will satisfy both parties soon. On the other hand, Chairman of the Economic Committee in the Higher Council for Planning and Development Naser Al-Rawdan described the meeting as unprecedented since they looked into the impact of low oil prices, taking into consideration the 64 percent budget defi cit. He said this requires concerted efforts from the Economic Committee in the Higher Council for Planning and its counterparts in the Council of Ministers and the Parliament. He stressed all these committees are in one boat moving towards economic reforms in order to avoid the repercussions of continuous oil price decline. He explained the most important aspect of their work is to boost the Kuwaiti economy while implementing economic reforms without harming the citizens and maintaining their income.

In the meantime, the parliamentary Health Committee on Sunday approved the draft law on social care for the elderly. Committee Rapporteur MP Sadoun Hammad Al-Otaibi said the bill consists of 25 articles, adding that they rejected the proposal on safeguarding the rights of the elderly. Furthermore, Rapporteur of the Legislative and Legal Committee MP Ahmed Al-Qudaibi has unveiled their plan to invite representatives of the government next week to discuss bills on the independence of the judiciary and judicial argument board. He said the government has yet to submit the draft laws and the committee is currently working on parliamentary bills which will be discussed with the government.

He added the committee approved the bill presented by MP Mubarak Al- Khrainej to amend Article 12 of law number 1 /1999 on the health insurance for foreigners and fees for health services, as well as the proposal to add a new chapter (8 repeated) to law number 7/2010 on the rights of persons with disabilities presented by MP Saleh Ashour.

He said the committee unanimously rejected the proposal of MPs Faisal Al- Duwaisan and Askar Al-Anazi to amend Article One of law number 104/2013 on the establishment of a fund to support the family. He went on to say the committee also rejected the proposed amendment of law number 68/2015 on domestic workers and Article One of law number 69/2015 on establishing a closed joint stock company for the recruitment of domestic workers. In another development, the Housing Committee has agreed to exempt housing projects from prior assessment with MPs Faisal al-Kandari, Saud Al-Hareeji and Mansour Al-Zufairi voicing approval to this proposal while MP Rakan Al-Nisf rejected it.

By Abu Bakar Ibrahim Arab Times Staff and Agencies

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