Kuwait Budget Committee seeks fiscal transparency, discusses record surplus

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KUWAIT CITY, Nov 12: Chairman of the parliamentary Budgets and Final Accounts Committee MP Osama Al-Zaid confirmed that the panel met with Minister of Finance Fahd Al-Jarallah on Sunday. They discussed the committee’s request for the Ministry of Finance to submit the report on the budget and financial status of the State one month earlier than the specified date. He disclosed the ministry used to send the report to the National Assembly on Jan 31 or two months before the fiscal year ended.

He clarified that the committee asked the ministry to submit its report on Dec 31 in order to complete the panel’s report quickly. They also deliberated on the report about the public budget for fiscal 2022/2023, which included the following:
■ Total revenues reached KD 28.800 billion;
■ Total expenditures reached KD 22.300 billion;
■ Budgetary surplus of KD 6.400 billion — the first time in six years (since fiscal 2014/2015);
■ Non-oil revenues reached KD 2.080 billion;
■ KD 12.900 billion spent on salaries and allowances;
■ KD 4.300 billion spent on subsidies;
■ KD 2.050 billion spent on development projects. Al-Zaid said the amount spent on development projects is much lower than the budget due to the delayed implementation of several capital projects. He considers this a waste of potential revenues and job opportunities.

On non-oil revenues, he asserted the amount is very low; hence, the need to push for diversification of income sources. He attributed the budget surplus to the increasing oil prices, which recorded an average of $79 per barrel — higher than the previous years. He stressed this surplus is temporary and is controlled by oil prices. “After some years of suspending revenues deduction for the Future Generations Fund; the government informed the committee that one percent of the surplus will be transferred to the fund this year, while the rest will be for the State treasury and Public Reserve Fund,” he added.

On the other hand, the Education, Culture and Guidance Affairs Committee on Sunday held a meeting in response to the request of Minister of Education, Higher Education, and Scientific Research Adel Al-Manea to discuss the suspension of scholarships for Kuwaiti medical students in the universities in Egypt and Jordan. Rapporteur of the committee MP Hamad Al-Elyan confirmed that they agreed on the cancellation of the decision, stressing this move does not compromise the quality of education. He said the committee asked if there are regulations on allowing scholarships for medical students in Egypt and Jordan while ensuring a high quality of education. He added the Ministry of Higher Education has been asked to find a solution for the medical students enrolled in Egyptian and Jordanian universities at their own expense for the academic year 2023/2024. He stressed the need to address the issue because it is unfair to suspend the scholarships and allow the students to enroll in the same universities at their own expense.

Meanwhile, MP Dawoud Maarefiasked Minister of Health Ahmed Al-Awadhi if there is any regulation prohibiting doctors, who occupy the department head position in public hospitals, from engaging in private practice. If yes, he requested the list of such doctors and copies of the licenses of their clinics. He inquired if general medicine practitioners are allowed to own and manage private clinics if there are clinics providing services that are not in line with the academic and scientific criteria, what requirements for medical practitioners to have or work in clinics, and if these requirements include holding health-related certificates like doctors or nurses.

MP Adel Al-Damkhi asked Minister of Commerce and Industry and State Minister for Youth Affairs Muhammad Al-Aiban to provide him with a copy of the contract for infrastructure works at Shaddadiya Industrial Area, value and term of the contract, the completion rate of the project compared to the timetable stipulated in the contract if the contract was terminated and another contractor was assigned to complete the works because the first contractor was proven incapable of carrying out the task, and if the first contractor was given extra time to finish the project or not. MP Fahd Bin Jame’e asked Minister of Electricity, Water and Renewable Energy Dr Jasem Al-Ostad about the Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR).

He wants to know if consultants were hired to work at PAAAFR if these consultants came from institutions not affiliated with the ministry, their qualifications, experience, allowances, and job description. He also forwarded queries to Minister of Finance Fahd Al-Jarallah about the damages and consequences of the hacking incident on Sept 18, 2023. He asked if the ministry signed contracts with national or international companies to provide protection for its electronic systems if any data were lost due to the hacking, the role of the Communications and Information Technology Regulatory Authority in dealing with the consequences of hacking, if the hacker was identified, if the hacker is supported by certain foreign governments, if the systems were recovered after the hacking, and strategy to prevent recurrence of the hacking.

By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh
Al-Seyassah/Arab Times Staff

This news has been read 582 times!

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