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MPs pass oil budgets, criticize employment of expats in sector

Lawmakers slam rainbow ‘gay pride’ flags in storefront displays

KUWAIT: The National Assembly yesterday approved the budgets of giant oil companies, the investment authority and several other bodies, but they criticized why oil companies appoint expatriates instead of Kuwaitis. During the session, Islamist MP Mohammad Al-Mutair called on Commerce and Industry Ministry Khaled Al-Roudhan to crack down on shops that display rainbow “gay pride” flags and colors, while MP Thamer Al-Suwait praised the ministry for removing some of these displays. The Assembly today holds its final session of the current term by approving the state budget and studying the financial status of the country.
Thirty-eight MPs voted for the 2019/2020 budget of Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) and its subsidiaries against 19, projecting revenues at KD 21.4 billion, spending at KD 20 billion and a net profit of KD 1.4 billion. A large number of lawmakers strongly criticized KPC and its companies for not employing enough Kuwaitis, and wondered why expatriates still outnumber citizens in the oil sector.

MP Riyadh Al-Adasani said KPC is planning to borrow although it has a surplus of over KD 20 billion invested, and called for using the assets rather than borrowing. MP Saadoun Hammad said KPC has KD 24 billion in assets and its budget is over KD 17 billion, “so why it is planning to borrow?” He also questioned why KPC and its companies are not employing Kuwaitis and instead giving jobs to expatriates, adding that Kuwaiti petroleum engineers are working in other ministries.
MP Khalil Abul said oil companies award contracts to private companies and these firms employ expatriates, adding that Kuwaitis are deprived from enjoying their country’s resources. MP Al-Humaidi Al-Subaei accused KPC officials of obstructing the employment of Kuwaitis in oil companies by insisting on “tough employment exams in which only your children pass”. He warned that he will keep grilling the oil minister until the oil sector employs more Kuwaitis.

MP Khudair Al-Otaibi claimed that the oil sector is reluctant to employ Kuwaitis because of a general strike called by Kuwaiti employees a few years ago, which paralyzed the oil sector. MP Safa Al-Hashem charged that Kuwait Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, opts to sell successful investments while there are other failed investments which cost Kuwait losses in excess of $2.5 billion. She said KIA increased its investments in a particular fund even after losses. Head of the budgets committee MP Adnan Abdulsamad said that a good portion of oil companies’ revenue comes from investing their surpluses, which is wrong, as this is supposed to be the work of KIA and not KPC.

By B Izzak

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