Financial position ‘very strong’, Minister says
KUWAIT CITY, July 1, (Agencies): Kuwait’s financial position is “very strong” and propped up by the “Future Generations” reserve fund, the country’s finance minister said on Thursday, pointing out that the fund has seen exponential growth as of late. The fund has achieved a 33-percent increase in revenue, eclipsing the performances of similar sovereign funds around the world, Khalifa Hamada, who doubles as Minister of State for Economic and Investment Affairs, said in a statement, adding that growth should remain steady for as long as 20 years. The growth in the “Future Generations” fund’s revenue in the last five years even surpassed oil revenues in the same period, the minister added, attributing the fund’s “historic growth” to the “competence and professionalism” of those overseeing it. The state treasury’s liquid assets were “completely exhausted” last summer as a result of “mounting expenditure,” he said, listing a raft of liquidity measures worth USD 23 billion the country had taken to keep financial stability intact.
He pinpointed “rising oil prices” as a factor that helped provide adequate treasury liquidity, however, “scarcity” in liquidity remains a challenge, the minister highlighted, citing a four-year plan the government has put in place to set in motion a spate of financial and economic reforms. On Kuwait’s credit rating, he said the country’s ranking remains “solid” thanks to the backup provided by the “Future Generations” fund, but more reforms are needed to boost treasury liquidity in the long run, the minister stressed. “Financial reforms have now become a dire necessity,” he said, which behoves executive and legislative authorities alike to work closer together to bring this goal to fruition. National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim announced the closure of the first round of the 16th parliamentary term in Thursday’s special session, which was allotted for discussing the financial status of the State. During the session, Secretary General of the Assembly Adel Al-Lugani read Decree No. 139/2021 on ending the first round, which was issued by His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Mesha’al Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah. The parliamentary sessions will resume in October for the second round of the 16th parliamentary term. However, Hamada confirmed that the National Reserve Fund is being depleted due to withdrawals for covering public expenditure. Upon the request of the government to discuss the financial status of the State behind closed doors, Al-Ghanim emptied the Assembly Hall.
Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs Mubarak Al- Harees in the special session said that the government requested to discuss the financial state in confidence, according to the first legislative term in 1963. Article (69) states the National Assembly sessions are public and may be held in secret at the request of the government, the speaker, or at least ten members. In addition, Article (150) stipulates the government submit to the National Assembly a statement on the financial state situation at least once during each of its regular sessions.
On the other hand, MP Muhannad Al-Sayer forwarded queries to Minister of Health Dr Basel Al-Sabah about the vaccination campaign. He requested for copies of the result of testing the third shipment of Oxford vaccine, all contracts related to the procurement of covid-19 vaccines either through the local agent or directly with the manufacturer, and approvals of the relevant monitoring institutions. MP Mehalhal Al-Mudaf forwarded queries to the health minister about the number of foreign medical staff brought to Kuwait to deal with the coronavirus crisis, their countries of origin, job descriptions, if the ministry made sure that these medical workers left Kuwait on the specified day or upon completion of their tasks, total cost of hiring them and the tasks they completed. He also asked Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Justice and Minister of State for Nazaha Enhancement Abdullah Al-Rumi about the number of cases referred to Kuwait Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) in the last three years, number of deferred cases and reasons for taking such action. In addition, MPs Bader Al- Humaidi, Mubarak Al-Arow, Osama Al-Menawer, Osama Al- Shaheen and Mehalhal Al-Mudaf have submitted a bill on demographics. By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff and Agencies