Focus on bribery, ‘wasta’

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KUWAIT CITY, Feb 12: The parliamentary Budgets and Final Accounts Committee on Sunday met with Ministry of Defense Undersecretary Sheikh Abdullah Al-Sabah, says Committee Chairman MP Adel Al- Damkhi. The lawmaker disclosed that the final account of the ministry and its estimated budget for fiscal 2023/2024 were supposed to be discussed during the meeting, but the committee decided to suspend the discussion until the comments of the State Audit Bureau (SAB) and Bureau of Financial Controllers (BFC) on the final account of the ministry are addressed.

He explained that the committee took such a decision, because of the weak representation of the ministry in the meeting; hence, the queries of the panel went unanswered. He said the ministry was granted one month grace period to address the violations, asserting that the estimated budget of the ministry will be rejected unless the comments of monitoring institutions on its final account are addressed. Meanwhile, Chairman of the Values and Negative Phenomena Committee MP Muhammad Hayef confirmed the attendance of Government Performance Follow-up Agency (GPFA) Chairman Sheikh Ahmad Al-Meshal in the panel’s meeting on Sunday.

He said they tackled two negative phenomena during the meeting – bribery and the use of infl uence (‘wasta’). He clarified that the use of ‘wasta’ could be good if it is aimed at helping a citizen obtain his rights and bad if it is for granting privileges to the undeserving. He cited Sura An-Nesa, Verse 85: “Whoso interveneth in a good cause shall have the reward thereof, and whoso interventh in an evil cause will bear the consequence thereof. Allah overseeth all things.”

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He highlighted the destructive consequences of bad ‘wasta’, which results in disappointment among hard working employees whenever they see their undeserving colleagues being promoted, citing as an example an employee with five years experience promoted as the superior of a worker with 20 years experience.

He referred the recommendations of the committee to Sheikh Ahmad Al-Meshal, calling for the establishment of a solid administrative system that prevents questionable appointments and bribery. Hayef went on to say that the Housing Affairs Committee on Sunday met with Minister of Finance Abdulwahab Al-Rashead, who was asked to instruct Kuwait Credit Bank (KCB) to suspend the collection of housing loan installments from citizens who have yet to reside in their new houses. He said he received complaints from citizens who were asked to pay the housing loan installments even if they are still staying in rented houses, because the public utilities in the new housing areas have yet to be completed, while the disbursement of their rental allowance has been stopped. He intends to submit a bill on delaying the cancellation of the rental allowance and collection of housing loan installments until the beneficiaries move to their new houses.

Chairman of the Environment, Food and Water Security Affairs Committee MP Abdullah Fehad revealed that they were supposed to discuss the report of SAB about Kuwait National Focal Point for Environmental Projects (KNFP) on Sunday; but they failed to do so due to the absence of the secretary general of KNFP for the second time in a row. He said the secretary general did not attend the previous meeting due to her prior commitment to meet with an undisclosed delegation, and that she was absent in Sunday’s meeting because she is on leave. He confirmed that four consultants representing KNFP attended the meeting, but the presence of a decision-maker is required. He stated the committee found out that a copy of the report of SAB was illegally passed to KNFP, stressing the need to determine who should be held accountable for this and who is protecting KNFP. He added the committee will meet again after some weeks – once the secretary general returns from leave. By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff

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