Govt given ultimatum over fuel, fees hikes

MP threatens to grill PM

KUWAIT: The National Assembly’s financial and economic affairs committee yesterday gave the government two weeks to provide its views over two draft laws that would effectively prevent the government from raising charges or fuel prices. Rapporteur of the committee MP Safa Al-Hashem said the two bills relate to prevent the government from raising charges on public services or hiking fuel prices without a law by the Assembly, while the second calls to scrap the recent hike in petrol prices.

Hashem said Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh, who attended the meeting, pointed out that the second draft law is not in line with the constitution. The lawmaker criticized the government for ignoring the first three points in the economic reforms package and going directly to implement the fourth point, which is hiking charges and prices.

She said that the committee has decided to invite the governor of the Central Bank for a discussion over the government’s plan to raise debt through issuing bonds in the international market and the cost of the process, adding that the committee wants to inquire why the government always accepts recommendations by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Hashem said that the government does not have any studies on the impact of hiking charges or imposing taxes and called on the government to submit such studies.

She said the government has failed to stop squandering of public funds used to send patients for treatment abroad that cost public coffers KD 1 billion, adding that the government agreed to allow the withdrawal of $7 billion from state reserves for armament deals.

Opposition MP Mohammad Al-Mutair warned yesterday that he will file to grill Prime Minister HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah if the government fails to resolve a number of important issues, especially reinstating the revoked citizenships and scrapping the hike in petrol prices and the planned increase in power and water prices. He said that the prime minister is responsible for the policy of the government, and accordingly, if these issues remain unresolved, he will file to grill him. Mutair said that he will wait until after national holidays late next month before filing to grill him.

Another opposition MP Shuaib Al-Muwaizri also strongly criticized the prime minister for holding “side meetings” with MPs in a bid to divide the Assembly. Muwaizri also criticized Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem over his statement regarding a request by several lawmakers to meet HH the Amir, saying this is unacceptable and that the door of the Amir is always open for all lawmakers. The lawmaker said that practices by Ghanem show that he is trying to return to his previous behavior, “which is totally unacceptable”, adding that he had warned him against this in the opening session of the Assembly. Muwaizri said MPs will not allow Ghanem to return to his previous style, because lawmakers have their own opinions and these must be heard.

By B Izzak

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