KUWAIT: The National Assembly yesterday overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the election law that bars all those convicted by court for insulting the Almighty, prophets or the Amir. The amendment, passed by 40 members against just three, means depriving dozens of opposition members including prominent opposition leader and former MP Mussallam Al-Barrak from contesting or voting in elections.
The Assembly passed the critical amendment in two readings and sent it to the government. It becomes effective if the government, whose minister supported the change, will ratify the law and publish it in the official gazette. MPs also approved an amendment that would allow holding parliamentary elections from midday to midnight if they fall in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in summer next year after the current Assembly completes its four-year term. The Assembly also decided to hold its final session on July 3 when it is expected to pass a landmark legislation for the independence of the judiciary.
The Assembly also debated a report by the Audit Bureau outlining the main financial violations recorded by the Bureau against government ministries and departments from their final accounts in the 2014/2015 fiscal year. Although, the report says there has been a drop in violations as ministries responded positively to the Audit Bureau remarks, large sums of public funds have still been squandered due to failing to implement the law and the correct procedures.
The reports said that government ministries and departments have failed to collect over KD 510 million in charges and fees rendered by the government agencies. It said that the amount of government debt on others has grown to about KD 1.9 billion and called for action to recover government charges and debt. Public Treasury has been deprived of fines on others totaling KD 77 million because government agencies failed to collect those fines, the report said.
The Audit Bureau reported a suspected profiteering case amounting to KD 21 million at the Ports Authority in which employees are suspected of facilitating to others to seize the funds. MP Jamal Al-Omar said the remarks of the Bureau are frightening and after its publication, the government must resign and leave, adding that he fully trusts the Bureau. He also asked about the government measures in this regard.
Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh said the government reiterates its full cooperation with the Bureau, but “we do not agree to all the remarks”, adding that the government will refute some of the remarks. Later the Assembly held a secret session to hear the report of the Finance Minister about the financial status of the country. Nothing was announced after the session.
By B Izzak