Assembly passes ’22-’23 state budget – Holiday cash, front-liner rewards added

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KUWAIT CITY, Nov 1: The National Assembly on Tuesday approved the fourth report of the Budgets and Final Accounts Committee on the final accounts of five independent institutions for fiscal 2020/2021– Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA), Public Authority for Industry (PAI), Communications and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA), Insurance Regulatory Unit and Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) – with 55 out of the 58 present voting in favor while three voted against. In its report, the committee explained that it chose these five institutions out of 16 independent institutions due to their economic activities. As per the relevant laws, a certain percentage of the profits of the five institutions will be transferred to the Public Reserve Fund as follows:

Members of Parliament seen during Tuesday’s session of Parliament.

■ KD56 million from KPA whose revenues reached KD104 million while its expenditure totaled KD48 million;
■ KD32.6 million or 90 percent from PAI whose revenues reached KD86.6 million while its expenditure totaled KD49 million with gains amounting to KD37.6 million;
■ KD 11 million or 10 percent of the KD110 million gain of CITRA whose revenues reached KD119 million while its expenditure totaled KD 19 million;
■ KD3.5 million or 90 percent from the Insurance Regulatory Unit whose revenues from Sept 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 reached KD4.4 million while its expenditure totaled KD505,000;
■ KD418 million from KFAED whose revenues reached KD529.34 million while its expenditure totaled KD22.11 million. In addition, the relevant law stipulates that 25 percent or KD89.3 million of the gains of KFAED will be transferred to the Public Authority for Housing Welfare (PAHW).

The Assembly also approved the budget of subsidiary institutions for fiscal 2022/2023 with 52 of those present voting in favor; while five rejected – Obaid Al-Wasmi, Mubarak Al-Hajraf, Saleh Ashour, Hamdan Al-Azmi and Soud Al-Asfour – and one abstained (Khalil Abul).

These institutions include the Assembly Office, Kuwait Municipality, Kuwait University, Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI), Kuwait Firefighting Force (KFF), Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET), Public Authority for Minors Affairs (PAMA), Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR), Public Authority for Sports, Environment Public Authority (EPA), Public Authority for Disabled Affairs (PADA), Public Authority for the Publication of the Quran and Sunna, Kuwait Anti-Corruption Authority (NAZAHA), Public Authority for Manpower (PAM), Public Authority for Partnership Projects, Public Authority for Youth, National Diwan for Human Rights, Abdullah Al-Salem University and Medical Responsibility Agency.

The revenues, expenditures and gains of these subsidiaries indicate that the deficit will be covered by the budget of the concerned ministry and the Ministry of Finance will take it from the budget for fiscal 2022/2023. The budgets of ministries and other public institutions for fiscal 2022/2023 were approved as well; with 43 of those present voting in favor, four rejected and one abstained. Budgets and Final Accounts Committee Chairman MP Adel Al-Damkhi praised the positive response of the government to the MPs’ comments.

He vowed to continue cooperating with the government, as long as the latter is keen on implementing reforms. “There is no development without stability and no stability without cooperation,” he concluded. Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Abdulwahab Al-Rashead confirmed that the government has taken into consideration the comments of MPs; such as the budget needed for the encashment of the unused leave days of public sector workers, front-liner rewards, increasing fodder subsidy and augmenting the budget for housing projects including South Saad Al-Abdullah residential area. He pointed out that the budget is for one fiscal year, while the program of the government is for four years; hence, four budgets are needed.

He added the inflation in Kuwait is the highest among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, emphasizing that the government is keen on using the expected budgetary surplus judiciously to fortify the Public Reserve Fund. MP Thamer Al-Suwait then pointed out that the government has one year to implement the budget; hence, if it fails to do so, the Assembly will dismiss it like its predecessors. MP Mubarakn Al-Hajraf inquired about the basis for estimating the price of oil at $80 per barrel, wondering what will happen if the price goes down to $30 or up to $150. MP Shuaib Al-Muwaizri underscored the need for the finance minister to make a pledge to spend the budget wisely, refer those proven to have committed violations for investigation and take punitive action, provide jobs for Kuwaiti graduates, pay the frontliners incentive, and encash the unused leave days of public sector workers immediately.

MP Jenen Bu Shehri pointed out the inaccuracy in the statement of the finance minister about the possibility of a budgetary surplus due to the oil price hike. She asked how the nation can benefit from the oil price hike if this increase does not match the rising prices of commodities or inflation. On the other hand, the Assembly rejected the request submitted by MP Obaid Al-Wasmi and signed by nine other MPs to approve the minutes of the legislative session held on Oct 16, 2022. Assembly Speaker Ahmed Al- Saadoun clarified that the MPs did not take the oath during the Oct 16 session, so they were not official members of the Assembly until the inaugural session on Oct 18.

Some analysts consider the request a scheme aimed at appealing against the claim that the first session must include the election of the Assembly Office members, which this did not take place on Oct 16. Moreover, the Assembly approved some incoming letters and proposals; while it postponed taking a decision on the letter of Financial and Economic Affairs Committee chairman who asked the legislature to confirm the role of the committee and its main responsibility as per Article 43 of the National Assembly Law. Following are the approved incoming letters:

■ Request of MP Hassan Jowhar to assign the Public Funds Protection Committee to investigate corruption and money laundering cases referred to the previous Assembly;

■ Request of Jowhar to allot sovereign money for local investment and refer his letter to the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee for the latter to take the necessary steps for the executive and legislative authorities to prioritize this issue;

■ Request of the Business Environment Improvement Committee chairman to conduct a study on the government procedures in approving new businesses and direct investments, ensure the procedures are smooth and free of obstacles, and submit its report to the Assembly before the end of the first year of the current parliamentary term;

■ Request of MP Muhammad Hayef Al-Mutairi to resign from the Human Rights Committee;

■ Request of MP Abdulaziz Al-Saqaabi for the Housing and Real Estate Affairs Committee to find sustainable solutions to the housing issue, lack of cash at Kuwait Credit Bank, rising prices of construction materials, and delayed release of land needed for the implementation of housing projects;

■ Request of the Environment, Food and Water Security Committee chairperson to conduct a study in coordination with the concerned minister to determine the causes of rising air, soil and water pollution levels and find solutions;

■ Request of the Education, Culture and Guidance Committee chairperson for the committee to conduct investigation on the illegal appointments and promotions at the Ministry of Education and determining causes of the continuous deterioration of the educational sector;

■ Request of the government to speed up discussions on bills aimed at enhancing transparency and combating corruption, which was referred to the Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee;

■ Request of the Disabled Affairs Committee chairperson for the legislature to refer bills on amending Disabled Law number 8/2010 to the committee;

■ Request of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee chairperson to withdraw report numbers 13 and 37 on the proposal of the government regarding exports and governmental sokuk as per Article 59 of the National Assembly law;

■ Request of the Oil and Energy Affairs Committee chairperson to assign the committee to conduct a study on the oil and energy strategy until the year 2040, expanding oil industries and attracting foreign investments;

■ Request of the Foreign Affairs Committee chairperson to withdraw 12 reports on a number of bills as per Article 109 of the National Assembly Law;

■ Request of the Public Utilities Committee chairman to assign the committee to determine the roles of the concerned institutions regarding the maintenance and repair of roads, traditional markets and facilities in new residential areas and submit its report to the legislature before the end of the first year of the current parliamentary term;

■ Request of the Human Rights Committee chairperson to specify the role of the committee and assign it to revise the relevant laws in order to protect the rights of prisoners and follow up human rights issues;

■ Request of MP Muhammad Al-Hewaila to assign Housing Welfare Committee to study the proposed housing project in the current location of Hadiya Public Park after handing over this land to the Public Authority for Housing Welfare (PAHW);

■ Request of the Education, Culture and Guidance Committee chairperson to investigate the disappearance of monuments from Kuwait Museum;

■ Request of the same committee chairperson to investigate the fake certificates issue and violations related to overseas scholarships and appointments at the Ministry of Higher Education, in addition to conducting a study on matching the educational outputs with the actual manpower needs of the labor market. By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff

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