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Sunday , October 20 2019

Water, power bill collection seen to up expenditure

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 23: The parliamentary Budgets and Final Accounts Committee said the manner by which the Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW) collects outstanding payments is contributing to the inflation of its expenditures, while the final accounts of the Ministry of Public Works are inconsistent due to repeated re-allocation of maintenance budgets.

Committee Chairman MP Adnan Abdulsamad disclosed they focused on budgets and expenditures related to infrastructure and maintenance projects during the discussion of the final accounts of the Public Works Ministry for fiscal 2017/2018 which witnessed fluctuations in the re-allocation of budgets for certain maintenance works.

This debunks the lack of budget claim, while the pre-approved funds are not being used for their intended purpose but the ministry denied this. The committee then stressed the need for the ministry to stick to the allocated budget as doing otherwise might have contributed to the lack of maintenance which led to the recent flood crisis. Minister of Public Works and State Minister for Housing Jenaan Boshehri who attended the meeting, confirmed the lack of equipment in laboratories that caused imperfections in asphalt mixes. She underscored the importance of correcting these issues soon.

Additionally, the committee underlined the significance of evaluating contractors and avoiding defaulters while ensuring the application of penalties for delays and prompt collection of fines. If this entails amendment of the Tenders Law, the committee will take such a step. Talking about MEW, Abdulsamad revealed the committee looked into the collection of electric bill payments.

He said the ministry is currently relying on a company to read electricity meters; indicating this practice led to the accumulation of unpaid bills which, in turn, inflates the expenditures of the ministry. The committee urged the ministry to cooperate with supervising bodies in accordance with the law, stressing that using confidential information as an excuse is unacceptable.

It was disclosed that the ministry has been neglecting 90 percent of warnings and notifications issued by supervising bodies as no action is being taken despite the repetition of violations. The committee also tackled the type of fuel that Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) supplies to power plants, considering this constitutes 50 percent of the ministry’s expenditures.

The ministry said it has never sought consultation on the type of fuel and it has nothing to do with changes at KPC. Meanwhile, the State Audit Bureau (SAB) affirmed the accountability agreement between the ministry and KPC favors the latter and undermines the rights of the ministry. It added that KPC supplies the ministry with fuel based on international prices, but the ministry settles its accounts according to subsidized prices. Therefore, the committee called on both parties to reevaluate their agreements.

By Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff

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