MP reopens Malaysia file amid slap on credit rating

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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 5: In its ordinary session on Wednesday, the National Assembly witnessed the MPs’ presentation of their queries to the ministers. MP Hassan Jawhar asked Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad to provide him with copies of all correspondences that his ministry received from the Malaysian government regarding the Malaysian Sovereign Fund issue. He said this issue has negatively affected the reputation of Kuwait and contributed to the downgrading of its credit rating. He inquired how a huge amount — almost $3 billion — was transferred from Malaysia to Kuwait and then back in less than 48 hours.

He pointed out that this incident indicates a major shortcoming in the banking system and absence of the monitoring role of the concerned institutions. He wondered why no senior official has been suspended or investigated, considering the gravity of such a crime. He then highlighted the fact that the top priority of His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Mesha’al Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah is combating corruption. MP Abdulkareem Al-Kandari asked Minister of Finance and Minister of State for Economic Affairs and Investments Abdulwahab Al-Rashid about the delay in investigating those involved in the Malaysian Sovereign Fund case. He said it seems the case has been covered by other issues and no results have been announced so far, even if the case was referred to the Public Prosecution in August 2021. He wanted to know if other individuals have been summoned for investigation, besides the son of the former prime minister and his partner lawyer. He called on the prosecution to present a monthly report on the progress of investigations. He also wondered how $3 billion entered Kuwait and then sent back in a short period without the monitoring of the Central Bank of Kuwait, State Security General Department and Kuwait Financial Investigations Unit.

He asked if the officials, who took part in the crime and facilitated it, have been dismissed from the concerned public institutions and if the then finance minister was summoned for interrogation; especially since he is now serving as Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He urged Al-Rashid to respond to his queries during the session, but the latter said he will reply according to the law; while affirming his full respect for the MPs and promised to follow up the issue.

MP Mubarak Al-Hajraf presented his queries to Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Ali Al-Musa about the delayed paving works on the road connecting Saad Al-Abdullah and Amghara, as well as the Fourth Ring Road and the Sixth Ring Road. He said this road is called the Jahra ‘road of death’, because of several accidents that resulted in deaths and injuries. He added that some years ago; he accompanied the then minister in an inspection tour and the latter promised to repair the road, but nothing has been done till date. He stressed that the miserable condition of the road gives an idea about the condition of all roads in Kuwait. He added it is strange that the roads in counties, which received financial support from Kuwait, are now better than the roads here. He asked where is the money allocated for paving the road. MP Muhannad Al-Sayer presented his queries to Minister of Justice and Minister of State for Integrity Promotion Affairs Jamal Al-Jallawi about the incentives granted to judges who worked during the parliamentary elections in 2020. He said the government always says it has no money, but we saw some employees who did not report for work because of Covid-19 were summoned to work in the constituencies during the elections and granted incentives that reached millions of Kuwaiti dinars while the government complains about the lack of cash to pay salaries. He wondered why a counselor received KD 8,000 incentive and the driver received KD 400.

MP Osama Al-Shaeen directed his queries to Al-Jallawi as well about the investigations into the Panama papers case. He wants the minister to reassure the citizens that these papers have nothing about Kuwaiti money or Kuwaiti parties involved in money laundering. A number of MPs, Wednesday, called for solutions to find alternative income sources and to face the budget deficit in the country. During the National Assembly’s session, the MPs affirmed the need to allow the oil sector to rely on other oil-related substances to create a multi-income sources. Meanwhile, the MPs strongly refused economic reforms that involve imposing taxes on citizens. They also opposed turning residential areas into investment areas to lower real estate prices in Kuwait. The previous legislative term did not have a prominent achievement whether by MPs or members of the government, especially on social and economic topics that concern the Kuwaiti people. Moreover, they criticized the government’s delay in giving money rewards to people who served in the frontline during the coronavirus crisis, although the cabinet had already approved it. The MPs also called on the government to reduce the price of the PCR tests.

After the presentation of parliamentary queries, the Assembly moved to the response to the Amiri speech. MP Saleh Zeib Al-Mutairi expressed his gratitude for the Amiri amnesty, while calling for further steps to include some youths who were convicted in opinion cases and others who are currently in exile. He also suggested amending Article 79 of the Constitution to be in line with the Islamic Sharia, which he considers the key to solving all problems. He called for developing education by reviewing the curricula and matching the educational output with the actual manpower needs of the labor market. He wondered why the job advertisements in most cases are designed to fit the expatriates rather than the nationals.

He added there is no clear and transparent mechanism for the recruitment of those holding doctorate degrees; considering that Kuwait has almost 3,000 doctorate degree holders whose jobs do not match their specializations. He went on to say that the health issue requires integrated replanning in order to tackle the distribution of the budget, doctors and other medical practitioners to match the population in residential areas. He pointed out the medical information and digital system in Kuwait is obsolete; hence, the need for full upgrade. He also stressed the need to revamp the system adopted by the committee tasked to assess the cases of those undergoing overseas treatment to prevent anyone from using this as a tool for granting political favors.

MP Hassan Jawhar thanked His Highness the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Mesha’al Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah and others who contributed to the issuance of amnesty. He then presented his study, showing that the Kuwaiti population will increase thrice the current number in 50 years and the population will reach five million in 2050. He informed the political leadership about these facts, inquiring how the demands of such a number of citizens will be addressed after 50 years if the government is not capable of providing houses to 28,000 housing grant applicants in Mutla’a Residential City. He said the housing grant applications will reach half million and there will be half million graduates who need jobs in 10 years.

He stressed that unless an integrated strategy starts now, Kuwait will witness critical conditions in the future. He is is grateful to the previous generation who passed on a wonderful Kuwait to the current generation. However, he wonders if the next generation will feel the same towards the current generation if the latter passes on a troubled State. MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji praised the Amiri amnesty and thanked former Health Minister Dr Basel Al-Sabah for the efforts he exerted to overcome the Covid-19 crisis. By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Time Staff and Agencies

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