MP Muwaizri files to grill Abul over housing woes

Lawmakers demand fundamental change in housing policy

KUWAIT: Housing Minister Yasser Abul speaks during a session on housing at the National Assembly yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Opposition lawmaker Shuaib Al-Muwaizri yesterday filed to grill State Minister for Housing Yasser Abul for allegedly failing to implement the housing law and providing false information to the National Assembly. As the Assembly was about to end a special debate on how to resolve the housing problem that has left half of the citizens queuing for a house, Muwaizri told his colleagues he had filed to grill the minister.

During the debate, many MPs demanded a fundamental change in the government housing policy to resolve Kuwaitis’ number one problem and drastically cut the waiting period, which now exceeds 15 years. In his grilling, Muwaizri, who himself was a housing minister for a brief period in 2012, accused the minister of failing to implement a law passed by the Assembly in 1993 to cut the waiting period for government houses to three years from the time of providing the land plot.
The lawmaker said the minister and the entire government failed to implement the law and the waiting period remained very long, with the number of families waiting for houses increasing to over 110,000, representing half of the citizen population. Muwaizri also charged that the minister violated the housing law which requires him to establish Kuwaiti companies to implement housing projects and instead awarded the major Mutlaa housing project to a foreign consortium.

The grilling also accused the housing minister of providing contradictory numbers to the Assembly about housing projects. He said that in an answer to a parliamentary question, the minister said only 600 houses of Jaber Al-Ahmad project were found to be defective, while yesterday during the debate, the housing authority said all the 4,500 houses were defective and needed some repairs. Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said the grilling will be listed on the agenda of the next session on May 9 to decide the date of its debate. The minister told reporters he was prepared to face the grilling and he will have the appropriate answers for all the issues raised.

During the Assembly debate on the housing problem, Abul said that in the past three years, there has been a substantial acceleration in awarding government housing. The minister said in the past 60 years, slightly over 98,000 houses were given to citizens, but since 2014, as many as 45,000 houses were distributed. He said the government succeeded in cutting the waiting period to just over three years for some projects and is planning to deliver around 60,000 housing units in the coming few years.

But several MPs said that most of the recent distributions are “fake” and are just on “paper”, adding that the problem remained unresolved. MP Saleh Ashour said that the government must change its housing policy completely by providing much cheaper land for the people and inviting the private sector to take part.

MP Omar Al-Tabtabaei said that to solve the housing problem, Kuwait needs to build an entirely new city to accommodate the expected increase in the population. He made a video presentation of a city he called Al-Dorrah as a solution to the problem.

By B Izzak

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