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KUWAIT CITY, Aug 3: The National Assembly is determined to be fully responsible in facing economic challenges without hurting the citizens, Assembly Speaker Marzouk Ali Al-Ghanim said Wednesday, referring to what the Parliament faced in the past and the recent decision of the government to increase gasoline prices.
Citing the minutes of the meeting of the parliamentary Finance Committee in February, Al-Ghanim affirmed the members of the Parliament are committed to follow through the decisions taken by the committee in that meeting. He added the committee unanimously agreed on addressing the gasoline subsidies issue by liberating the prices in accordance with international prices and by supporting the citizens of Kuwait. He stressed it is unacceptable to increase gasoline prices without being committed to the decision of the committee.
He added the majority of the Parliament members, through communications with them and the meeting held Tuesday to discuss the repercussions of lifting gasoline subsidies, confirmed their commitment to what was agreed upon in the February meeting of the Finance Committee.
He disclosed that he told His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah about this subject, as well as the need to hold a joint meeting next week to discuss the issue in order to find the right formula for facing the economic challenges without hurting the interests of citizens.
In response to a question about the Parliament’s position in case the government insists on its decision to increase gasoline prices, Al-Ghanim asserted, “We must be optimistic. Positive results are possible through dialogue, as it happened in previous crises. The government has tools, just like the Parliament. If no agreement is reached during the joint meeting next week, then every development has its own story.”
Meanwhile, MP Saleh Ashour praised Minister of Health Dr Ali Al-Obaid for fi- nalizing talks on the health insurance for retirees, while warning against the dire consequences of expanding the coverage of health insurance granted to citizens as it will just be an added financial burden for the State budget. He stressed the need for the Health Ministry to improve services in health centers and hospitals, in addition to the provision of the most advanced medical equipment and highly qualified medical staff.
He added the ministry should require all private companies and institutions to grant health insurance to their employees so they can undergo treatment in private hospitals, thereby, reducing pressure on government hospitals. “Since the government is keen on reforming the economic track, it should also address the health insurance issue immediately and provide the best health care to the people, such that the citizens will no longer demand for health insurance to undergo treatment in private hospitals,” the lawmaker concluded.
Meanwhile, the relationship between the Public Funds Protection Committee and Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr Yousef Al-Ali was strained suddenly on Wednesday due to what the committee regarded as the non-cooperative attitude of the minister during its investigation of the alleged violations in the allocation of farmlands.
Committee Chairman MP Dr Abdullah Al-Turaiji said the panel members were surprised when the representative of the ministry did not honor the invitation. He added the director of Commercial Company Affairs declared that he could not attend the meeting based on a directive from the ministry and the assistant undersecretary for Companies Affairs excused himself as he is on vacation abroad. He pointed out the director of Commercial Companies Affairs gave the committee useful and crucial information during the previous meeting and that will change the trend of investigation.
He said the director revealed that one Kuwaiti owns 135 suspicious companies. He added the committee sent another invitation to the minister for the next meeting, indicating the committee will be compelled to take necessary legal actions if the minister fails to attend this meeting. He went on to say that the committee will send a letter to National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim to inform him that the ministry has not been cooperating with them in their effort to unveil manipulation and falsification of commercial licenses, in order to take the necessary procedures.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff
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