KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday ordered HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to take measures needed to restudy the Amiri Diwan budget and that of affiliated bodies as well as rationalize it, said Deputy Amiri Diwan Minister Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah yesterday.
MPs welcomed and praised the Amir’s order. MP Madhi Al-Hajeri said such an important decision can only come from an important leader like Sheikh Sabah. He said the Amir has realized the difficult economic situation resulting from the drop in oil prices and accordingly ordered the revision. He called on all state agencies to follow suit. MP Talal Al-Jallal called on all ministers to follow the decision in order to cut spending in the next year’s budget. He asked the government to provide the National Assembly with the details of amounts saved by various ministers.
Meanwhile, Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem yesterday assigned MP Yousef Al-Zalzalah to coordinate with finance minister and acting oil minister Anas Al-Saleh to hold a joint Assembly-government meeting to discuss measures to face the budget deficit. The meeting will take place at the Assembly bureau and will debate specific measures to boost non-oil revenues.
Saleh has said that the government will discuss all the measures with the Assembly before adopting them and Ghanem has said that the government promised not to take any unilateral decision. The meeting is expected to discuss reducing subsidies on petrol and on other heavily-subsidized services like electricity. Kuwait is the only Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state not to raise the price of petrol following the sharp fall in oil prices. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain have all increased the price of fuel and other commodities after recording budget deficits. Kuwait has only increased the price of diesel and kerosene.
In a related development, liberal MP Rakan Al-Nasef questioned the finance minister about the government’s procedures in collecting charges imposed on companies that utilize government land. The lawmaker asked if any of the companies failed to pay the charges and demanded a list of the names of such companies. Nasef asked about if the government has taken legal measures against companies that have not paid and inquired if the government has taken measures to stop these companies from using the land. He also asked if the ministry has exempted any of the companies of the fees.
In the meantime, the Assembly’s interior and defense committee discussed the issue of naturalization with Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah. Head of the committee MP Sultan Al-Shemmari said the minister informed the committee that the files of 155 children of Kuwaiti widows and divorcees are ready and will be issued soon. Shemmari said that the head of the bedoon apparatus Saleh Al-Fadhalah told the committee that the files of 32,000 bedoons are under evaluation and citizenship will be granted to those who deserve it.
By B Izzak