Turaiji files new complaint at Anti-Corruption Authority
KUWAIT: The court of cassation yesterday set May 6 a date to issue the final ruling on 69 opposition activists accused of storming the National Assembly building more than six years ago. The activists, who include three present lawmakers and several ex-MPs, were handed harsh jail terms last year by the appeals court which considered their action as a major offense.
The appeals court issued jail terms ranging between one and nine years against 67 defendants and suspended jail terms against the remaining two. It also ruled that the jail terms be carried out with immediate effect even before the court of cassation, the highest in the country, had looked into the case.
MPs Jamaan Al-Harbash and Waleed Al-Tabtabaei as a result spent three months in the central jail before they were freed two weeks ago by the cassation court. Activists and lawyers criticized the appeals court ruling and even the public prosecution told the cassation court the ruling was not in line with the law because a number of defendants were not allowed to make their defense arguments in the court.
A large number of protesters stormed the Assembly building in Nov 2011 following a demonstration outside the Assembly to protest against alleged graft by 13 members of the then parliament. Those MPs were interrogated by the public prosecution but no charges were pressed against them because of insufficient legislation to take them to court. But the cassation court yesterday rejected a request by some defendants to lift a travel ban against them, although the interior ministry has already removed the ban.
In a related development, former MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji yesterday filed a new complaint at the Anti-Corruption Authority against the Assembly, claiming the parliament failed to release an investigation report on some officials obtaining state land illegally. The investigation was carried out by the previous Assembly in which Turaiji was a member and also headed the probe. The ex-lawmaker has already filed a number of similar complaints to the Anti-Corruption Authority calling for an investigation. One of the complaints claimed that some MPs had received fresh bribes worth millions of dinars.
Education Minister Hamed Al-Azmi stressed that the initial launch of six colleges at Sabah Al-Salem Academic City (Shadadiya University) will take place during the first half of 2020, adding that most construction works are scheduled to conclude in 2019. Azmi added that there will be parking spaces for 24,114 vehicles, with the possibility of future expansions. Azmi explained that the six colleges – engineering, science, administrative sciences, life sciences, education, and arts – will be initially handed over during the last quarter of 2018. He added that all guarantees had been taken to fine contractors who fall behind schedule.
KD 15 billion
Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and its subsidiaries made revenues of KD 15 billion in nine months from April to December 2017, well-informed sources said. Crude oil revenues were KD 9 billion, while those of oil products were KD 325 million and those of gas KD 122 billion, the sources added. Meanwhile, Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) announced net profits of over KD 24 billion during the last three fiscal years (April 2014-March 2017). KIA’s report emphasized its role in managing the investments of state reserves as well as the future generations funds.
The Public Authority for Industry (PAI) offered for public bidding a tender to conduct advisory studies to build a technology complex in Shadadiya industrial area over an area of 200,000 sq m at a total cost yet to be determined by the study. PAI Director Abdul Kareem Taqi said funding sources will be sought through local or foreign banks and stressed that building the project’s infrastructure will start before the end of this year. Taqi said PAI had an agreement with Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) to prepare a study on the project’s strategies and goals and development plan, while the recent bidding will be for building the project’s infrastructure and its costs and revenues.
Taqi also noted that the project aims at contributing to technical industrial research, encouraging creativity and technological industrial innovations as well as their applications in petrochemicals, renewable energy, water resources and others. Notably, the deadline for the bidding is April 12, 2018 and bids should be submitted to PAI. These remain valid for 90 days effective from their opening.
Statistics issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) showed a considerable retreat in total amounts allocated for subsidies, be they for construction or food items, and that subsidies fell by 11.9 percent in 2017. Figures showed that total subsidies paid in 2015 amounted to KD 254 million, which dropped to KD 195 million in 2016 and finally reached KD 171 million in 2017. The figures also showed that the total subsidies paid for food items were KD 94.2 million, while those paid for construction materials were KD 77.5 million, especially after implementing housing welfare law number 19/2014 which provides applicants with KD 30,000 in construction material subsidies. Relevant sources said that the fall in subsidies happened due to drops in international prices of the subsidized items. The sources added that another reason for the fall in subsidies is citizens’ decreased consumption of subsidized materials, namely construction material, in view of suspending some new housing projects.
Social aid allowances
Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL) Undersecretary Saad Al-Kharraz said 7,600 social aid files have been referred to the public prosecution over suspicions of unlawfully receiving social aid allowances with a total value of KD 25 million, of which only KD 7 million has been recovered. Kharraz stressed that law number 24/1962 pertaining clubs and NGOs authorized MSAL to supervise these bodies to protect charity work from “intruders” and the possibility of exploiting charity funds by terrorist groups. “This is done through issuing special laws, decisions and regulations that will help put UN resolutions related to fighting money laundering and funding terrorism into practice,” he added.
By B Izzak and A Saleh