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Adasani files new grilling against finance minister

By B Izzak

MP Riyadh Al-Adasani

KUWAIT: MP Riyadh Al-Adasani yesterday filed to grill Finance Minister Barrak Al-Sheetan for the second time in less than a month, repeating almost the same charges that were debated in the first grilling two weeks ago. The lawmaker accused the minister, who has been in office for just two months, of proposing unpopular measures that would undermine the “pockets” of the people and for failing to file proper lawsuits over major corruption and money laundering scandals. He also accused the minister of providing false information during the first grilling with the aim to mislead the lawmakers and the public.

Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said the grilling will be placed on the agenda of the next session, which will be determined by the Assembly office on Sunday. He also said that he referred to the legal and legislative committee two requests by the public prosecution asking to lift the parliamentary immunity of two MPs in one case and a third MP in a different case. The first case is related with suspected dealings with a Bangladeshi MP who under investigation in Kuwait. A number of senior officials are also suspected of being linked to his illegal activities.

In his new grilling, Adasani said that the minister submitted to the Cabinet in May what he called the “economic document”, which proposes wide-scale measures to boost revenues by imposing taxes, raising charges and cutting employment benefits. The document proposes, among other measures, to impose value added tax (VAT) and other taxes on certain goods, raise electricity and water charges and freeze salary hikes and annual promotions in all government departments, besides reducing government contribution to social security.

The document calls to amend a 1994 law that prevents the government from raising charges on public services without the prior approval of the Assembly with the aim to free the  government’s hand in this issue. The lawmaker said such measures breach the constitution and aim to tackle the financial crisis by leaning on the people.

The grilling also accuses the minister of failing to control the country’s foreign investments managed by Kuwait Investment Authority, saying that losses have been reported in several investments and the minister did not take action. Adasani also accused the minister of not filing adequate and complete lawsuits to the public prosecution regarding a number of high profile corruption cases like that of the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, Kuwait’s alleged involvement in the Airbus bribery case and the scandal revolving around the Bangladeshi MP currently detained in the country.

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