Parliament debunks buffet cost speculations, calls for accuracy

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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 16, (Agencies): National Assembly Speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun postponed the ordinary session scheduled for Tuesday until Feb 6-7, 2024 due to the absence of the government. Al-Saadoun confirmed that Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of State for National Assembly and Cabinet Affairs Essa Al-Kandari informed the legislature about the government’s absence due to its resignation. Article 116 of the Constitution stipulates that the government must be represented by the prime minister or some of its members in the sessions of the Assembly.

Meanwhile, the Secretariat General of the Assembly vehemently denied the rumor about the alleged plan to submit parliamentary queries to HH the Prime Minister-designate Sheikh Dr Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah; affirming that all queries are for the interim government.

In a press statement, the Secretariat General clarified it is not permissible to submit parliamentary queries to a prime minister who has yet to be sworn in as per the Constitution and the bylaws of the Assembly. It stressed the need to verify information before publication; otherwise, the public will be misinformed. It also denied the news circulating on social media regarding the cost of the parliamentary members’ buffets; indicating that the amounts mentioned are unreal. It explained that the total amount of breakfast and lunch buffets for representatives and employees at the Secretariat during the sessions does not exceed KD1,768; stressing that if the session is not held, the lunch buffet is canceled.

The Secretariat called for accuracy, especially since all contracts for buffets are carried out under the supervision of the State’s regulatory agencies and by the financial regulations and the policy of the Secretariat. It added that the number and amount of such buffets have been reduced compared to the previous assemblies, as the current legislature is keen on protecting public money. It also denied the rumor that the deputy speaker has prevented the public from entering the session hall, emphasizing this is utterly false.

On the other hand, Chairman of the Human Rights Protection Committee MP Muhammad Hayef said the investigation into the death of a citizen, Turki Al-Anzi, has been suspended due to the expiration of the period granted to the committee and it has been unable to request for an extension due to the adjournment of Assembly sessions since Jan 9.

In a press statement, Hayef confirmed that the committee held several meetings with the family of Al-Anzi and listened to all their statements. He said they also met with the head of the investigation committee assigned by the defense minister; and heard the views of the director of the Military Judiciary, members of the investigation committee, and the assistant chief of the General Staff of the Intelligence and Security Authority.

He added the committee continued its meetings with several military officials who are directly related to the incident, in the presence of the director of Military Security at the Technical Training Institute and members of the investigation committee. In another development, Hayef revealed that on Jan 14, the committee discussed several petitions submitted by citizens in the presence of the director general of the Public Authority for Housing Welfare (PAHW) and several other officials in the authority. He said the committee is keen on resolving these complaints by the law and regulations, in coordination with the PAHW officials.

Moreover, MP Shuaib Al-Muwaizri affirmed that the law on increasing the minimum pension of retirees; which was published in the Official Gazette on Dec 3, 2023, was applied to 80 percent of the beneficiaries this month. He clarified that the law would be applied to the remaining 20 percent after rectifying all errors related to those who have seven children as the increment was applied only to those with one child up to five children. He said all the complaints and problems related to the application of the law will be addressed soon. He pointed out that whenever a new law is implemented, some problems arise; and in this case, there are problems regarding early retirement and shares; reiterating all the issues will be resolved soon.

Asked about those entitled under Chapter Five of the law, Al-Muwaizri stated that this would have been resolved in the session slated for Dec 19, as the Council of Ministers already issued a decision in this regard; but no session was held due to the death of HH the late Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah — may Allah have mercy on him.

In addition, Al-Muwaizri called for the proper selection of ministers in the new government and the exclusion of those suspected of involvement in corruption. He asserted: “We do not interfere in matters related to the powers of the executive authority, especially about government formation, but it is necessary to provide advice.” He stated that the selection should be based on competencies, such as people who are not suspected of embezzlement or abuses in the Army Fund and those who played a major role in the merging of two banks.” He hopes that HH the Prime Minister-designate is keen on removing anyone suspected of corruption and that the selection will be in the interest of the country and the people; not based on emotion or pressure.

On another topic, Al-Muwaizri said: “Some parties are planning to attack the Assembly’s entity as they were harmed by laws issued recently. This attack will allow the corrupt to demand the transformation of the Assembly into a Shura Council, which is the first door to corrupting everything. Certain parties are affected by the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry Law, which subjected the chamber to State laws after 70 years of independence from State laws and the Constitution. Others are affected by the law on the abolition of the local agent, which allows any foreign company to participate directly in tenders or direct sales to citizens. This law enhances competition between companies in terms of prices and services for the benefit of the country and the citizen. Criticism should be directed to the representatives of the nation, not the entity of the Assembly.”

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