Ghanem hopeful of political stability, diffusion in tension

Govt to reject Assembly bid to scrap price hikes

KUWAIT: National Assembly speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said yesterday he was optimistic that certain positive moves and efforts would succeed in defusing tension and achieving political stability. Ghanem told reporters that he believes these efforts would bear fruit in the coming week when the National Assembly is scheduled to hold regular sessions to debate a number of crucial issues. He said that he was also optimistic that there will be some diffusion in tension for the interests of the country and citizens.

The speaker however declined to comment on a threat by MP Youssef Al-Fadhalah to file a grilling against the prime minister on March 5, saying that the issue is being followed by the lawmaker himself. Asked if amendments to the nationality law will be discussed by the Assembly next week, Ghanem said he will meet with the Assembly’s committee on priority issues and after that he will prepare the agenda for the session.

The Assembly session is also expected to debate a draft law calling to scrap the hikes in petrol prices and electricity and water, which was approved by the financial and economic affairs committee two weeks ago. MPs have vowed to pass the law, which requires the government to cancel all the increases in public services and the planned hike in electricity and water prices in May.

According to reports, the government has decided to start increasing electricity charges for government offices first instead of commercial shops as was initially planned. The several-fold rise in electricity charges is expected to trigger massive increases in the prices of commodities and services, eventually leading to a rise in inflation and the cost of living.

MPs have vowed that they will not let the government touch the income of citizens to finance the budget deficit resulting from the sharp fall in oil revenues. They demanded that the government should first stop squandering public funds before it resorts to raising prices. But the government has insisted that it will not accept any legislation passed by the Assembly because it will have far-reaching negative consequences on the national economy. Under Kuwait law, the government can reject laws passed by the Assembly, but lawmakers can override the rejection with a fresh two-thirds majority.

Meanwhile, opposition MP Riyadh Al-Adasani said yesterday that one of the lawmakers who were charged of accepting millions of dinars in bribes from the government has received fresh cash deposits in his bank account totaling KD 250,000. Two weeks ago, Adasani revealed the names of 13 present and former MPs who received around KD 51 million in bribes, which were deposited in their bank accounts. The lawmaker said he is prepared to provide the details about the new deposits. The head of the Assembly’s budgets committee MP Adnan Abdulsamad said yesterday that the panel will invite the prime minister to discuss resolving extended overlapping between government institutions.

By B Izzak

This article was published on 01/03/2017