Kuwait’s Parliament and Gov’t align for a better future

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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 21: Kuwait’s government and parliament appear to have reached an apparent consensus on what needs to be done for the foreseeable future, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah said on Sunday. Citing “growing concerns” over the “fight” for national development, the Kuwaiti prime minister spoke of several suggestions, discussed amid a government-parliament joint coordination committee meeting, aiming to serve the nation’s best interests. As his government prepares to take the oath of office in parliament on Feb 6, he said the talks provided him with the opportunity to share the government’s “work plan” to ensure a prosperous future for the nation, while keeping an eye on present requirements.

His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah and National Assembly Speaker Ahmed Al-Saadoun at the Parliament-Government Coordination Committee meeting on Sunday

The government’s work plan, pending completion, will be presented in parliament as planned, he underlined, saying any alterations to the agenda along with the “legislative roadmap” will be addressed in due course. Meanwhile, MP Fares Al-Otaibi has submitted a bill on amending Cooperative Societies Law No. 24/1979 to impose harsher penalties on violators. The bill stipulates a maximum fine of KD 5,000 on whoever violates the law or its executive regulations.

The current maximum fine is KD 500. The bill stipulates adding a clause in Article 12 to grant the chairman or members of the board of directors of cooperatives full or partial leave from their public sector job according to a decision that will be issued by the Social Affairs minister. Another article is added stating that a joint committee will be formed by the Social Affairs minister to investigate the complaints filed by or against the cooperatives.

Members of the committee are from several public institutions – Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR), Public Authority for Industry (PAI), Kuwait Industries Union, Kuwait Faraand Kuwait Association for Small and Medium Enterprises. One more article shall be added stipulating a maximum fine of KD 10,000 for whoever violates Article 40 of the law. This amount is doubled in case the violation is repeated. The bill adds Article 39bis on obligating cooperatives to prioritize the nationals, followed by the children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis, Bedouns, citizens of other Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) and foreigners to occupy administrative, technical and supervisory posts. Appointments in cooperatives will be based on the published vacant positions under the supervision of the Ministry of Social Affairs. Cooperatives are prevented from purchasing foreign commodities unless the supply of local products is lower than the market’s demands.

They are not allowed to earn a profit of more than 10 percent of the prices offered by suppliers of local products, while the profit must be at least 50 percent of the price offered by the supplier of foreign commodities with matching domestic products. Cooperatives are obligated to specify conspicuous places for displaying domestic products without collecting any fee for this purpose from the local supplier. They must display circulars in conspicuous places, showing the right of the consumer to complain against the cooperatives and an explanation of the method for reporting erring cooperative societies. The Central Markets Administration must regularly conduct training courses for members of the board of directors of cooperatives. In addition, MP Muhammad Hayef submitted a bill to toughen penalties for whoever drives under the influence of drugs or liquor to three years in prison and a fine of KD 3,000.

In this case the driving license will be suspended for five years starting from the date of completing the prison term. The penalty decision will be published by three local newspapers. Earlier, His Highness the Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah attended the meeting of the Parliament-Government Coordination Committee on Sunday. National Assembly Speaker Ahmed Al-Saadoun, Deputy Speaker Muhammad Al-Mutair, MPs Mubarak Al-Tasha, Hassan Jawhar and Shuaib Al-Muwaizri; and Minister of State for National Assembly, Youth and Communication Affairs Dawoud Maarefi were also present at the meeting. They discussed the legislative agenda for the coming parliamentary year to reach an agreement in this regard.

Sources confirmed that the MPs are open to the idea of modifying the parliamentary agenda agreed with the former government. However, the MPs will not accept total change of the agenda. The meetings of the coordination committee are expected to yield positive results, because the prosperity and interest of the citizens are common factors in the agenda of the previous and current governments, sources added. Meanwhile, MP Fahd bin Jame’e asked Minister of Health Ahmed Al- Awadhi to provide him with the list of senior officials appointed since January 2020 till date. He asked if these officials met the conditions and if any of them were exempted from the conditions.

He also requested for the list of employees at the Ministry of Health and its subsidiaries who applied for retirement, those who were referred for retirement or resigned since January 2020 till date, comments of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) on the appointment of employees to leadership positions from January 2020 till date, steps taken to address these comments, number of cases filed by employees against the decisions to fill vacant senior positions from January 2020 till date, copies of the relevant court decisions, and current number of vacancies at the ministry and its subsidiaries.

MP Majed Al-Mutairi forwarded queries to Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and acting Minister of Interior Sheikh Fahd Yousef Al-Sabah about the deal to buy US-manufactured Oshkosh military vehicles. He wants to know if the Ministry of Defense conducted comparative technical studies on Oshkosh military vehicles and other brands used by the US Army, and the reason behind the purchase of 8×8 trucks that ply through unpaved and hilly roads which do not exist in Kuwait. He requested copies of all direct and indirect correspondences concerning the deal with DENEL Company and clarification of the rumor that DENEL is on the verge of bankruptcy. He asked if the Ministry of Defense has received offers from other companies in the last 12 months to supply MM 155 guns, including copies of such offers, if any.

By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh
Al-Seyassah/Arab Times Staff and Agencies

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