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KIA refusing to cooperate in sale probe

KUWAIT: Head of the National Assembly’s public funds protection committee MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji yesterday accused the state-run Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) of refusing to cooperate with the panel’s investigation. Turaiji said the committee met yesterday to discuss the issue of selling a real estate services company by KIA in a suspicious way that “serves the relatives of the KIA director”. He said that the director refused to provide the committee with documents of that sale and also refused to provide the documents to the Audit Bureau.

The committee intends to write a letter to the Assembly speaker stating that KIA has refused to cooperate with the panel’s investigation and also with the Audit Bureau, and “we have the evidence of that and the cheques of the sale”, the lawmaker said. Turaiji also warned the finance minister, who supervises KIA, that the authority is committing a serious mistake of refusing to cooperate with an Assembly panel.

KIA manages Kuwait’s foreign assets currently estimated at over $600 billion. There is no direct oversight by the parliament of investments and income from KIA investments are not counted as part of Kuwait’s budget. The sovereign wealth fund is required to present a detailed report to the Cabinet on the assets under its management and performance but is strictly forbidden from sharing this information with the general public.

Meanwhile, MPs continued yesterday to hail the move of HH the Amir to order cuts in the Amiri Diwan spending in light of the sharp fall in oil prices. The lawmakers also called on the government to take similar steps to cut spending by ministries. MP Fares Al-Otaibi praised the Amir’s move and urged the government to follow suit. The lawmaker said that the prime minister had asked his ministers to cut spending and stop unnecessary expenditures, but so far nothing has happened.

Islamist MP Abdulrahman Al-Jeeran demanded yesterday a special debate on the consequences of the plunge in oil prices and the sharp drop in the Kuwaiti bourse. He said the debate aims to discuss preventive measures taken by the government and what has been implemented of those measures to face the developments on the economic front. The Assembly and the government have agreed to hold a joint meeting shortly at the Assembly bureau to discuss the issue of lifting subsidies to reduce the budget deficit and boost non-oil revenues.

MP Askar Al-Enezi meanwhile submitted a draft law calling on the government to grant Kuwaiti citizenship to up to 4,000 stateless people known as bedoons in 2016. Enezi said he submitted the bill because the validity of the previous law expired by the end of last year and a new law must be approved to help speed up solving the problem of 110,000 bedoons.

The interior and defense committee of the Assembly discussed the issue on Sunday with the interior minister and the head of the bedoons committee. Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah told the panel that the ministry intends to grant citizenship to 155 people soon, mostly children of Kuwaiti women married to foreigners. Head of the bedoons committee Saleh Al-Fadhalah said that authorities have begun looking into the cases of 32,000 stateless people to see if they deserve to be granted citizenship or not.

By B Izzak

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