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Lawmakers reject proposed measures to reduce welfare – New anti-corruption law to be approved on Jan 12

KUWAIT: A number of MPs expressed their strong opposition to proposed government measures to reduce subsidies in a bid to cut spending in the face of a sharp fall in oil revenues. The lawmakers vowed that they will not allow the government to introduce the proposals, which will negatively impact the standard of living of Kuwaiti citizens.

The MPs were commenting on reports that an international consultancy has advised the government to take a number of austerity measures mainly focused on reducing subsidies. MP Fares Al-Otaibi said the proposals are totally rejected, adding that any plan to make citizens bear additional financial burdens to boost government revenues is not accepted and will be rejected outright. Otaibi said lawmakers will not accept the government undermining the housing policy by making some cuts in this policy, especially the housing loan or monthly allowance.

MPs will also reject any government plan to cut a KD 2,000 government grant given to Kuwaitis on their marriage. MP Saleh Ashour said that the government must first stop the squandering of public funds, especially by ministers and top officials, before they resort to overburdening the people. MP Askar Al-Enezi vowed that MPs will not allow the passage of any measures that could undermine the income of the Kuwaiti people. Enezi said MPs reject the findings and recommendations by the foreign firm on reducing or cutting subsidies.

Meanwhile, National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said yesterday that the Assembly will approve the new Anti-Corruption Authority law on Jan 12 to replace a similar legislation scrapped by the constitutional court two weeks ago. Ghanem said the Assembly was scheduled to pass the new law last week, but the sudden death of MP Nabil Al-Fadhl forced the cancellations of Assembly sessions until Jan 12. The speaker assured the employees of the Anti-Corruption Authority that they will be reappointed in their posts and given the same salary and benefits once the law is passed.

The constitutional court has ruled that the Amiri decree establishing the authority was not in line with the constitution because it was issued when the Assembly was in recess. Ghanem also said that the parliamentary seat vacated by Fadhl will be declared vacant on Jan 12 during the Assembly session as per the constitution. A by-election will be held to elect a replacement within 60 days from the day of announcing that the seat is vacant by the Assembly.

Secretary of the Assembly MP Adel Al-Khorafi said that the Assembly bureau has decided to set up a permanent medical emergency unity at the Assembly. The decision came after the death of Fadhl, who suddenly died on his seat last Tuesday, apparently from a heart attack. Fadhl was rushed to the nearby Amiri Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

By B Izzak

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