By B Izzak

KUWAIT: A National Assembly panel formed to investigate allegations of irregularities in the appointments of employees in the oil sector has decided to invite His Highness the Prime Minister for a meeting next month. Rapporteur of the panel MP Bader Al-Mulla said the committee, appointed following the grilling of the former oil minister, has already held 14 meetings and made important findings.

He said the panel will hold two more meetings; one with a technical committee that probed issues raised during the grilling of the former oil minister and the second with the Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) which is headed by His Highness the Prime Minister.

The lawmaker said the meeting with the SPC is crucial because of the key information the investigation has arrived at, adding that the report of the panel will include all the details. Mulla said the committee has also decided to meet with Prime Minister His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah on March 15 to complete the investigation.

In the meantime, the National Assembly is expected to debate today the controversial issue of public amnesty for prisoners jailed on political issues especially former opposition MPs and activists who were jailed for storming the national assembly building in November 2011.

The legal and legislative committee headed by MP Khaled Al-Shatti decided to combine three draft laws on the issue and presented a joint report to the assembly, a move that was categorically rejected by opposition MPs because the combined draft law calls for granting amnesty also to around 20 Kuwaiti activists jailed for forming a cell linked to Iran and which plotted to carry out attacks in Kuwait.

Opposition MPs want to debate the draft laws separately in order to be able to approve the one that covers the former opposition MPs and activists and not the cell members. National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he prefers that each draft law is debated separately. The assembly has the right to reject the legal committee’s report and demand separate reports.

Ghanem recalled that he had repeatedly said that amnesty is requested from the leadership and not imposed, citing the examples of a few opposition members who returned to the country on special pardons by the Amir.

The assembly is also due to debate another controversial draft law on pensioners and several MPs are insisting that the law should be in line with Islamic Sharia law that bans banking interest. Eleven MPs have submitted a request calling on the assembly to debate the pensioners law before the amnesty bill.

The assembly session comes a day after a limited Cabinet reshuffle in which Mariam Al-Aqeel was moved from the finance to the social affairs portfolio, Khaled Al-Fadhel was given only the oil ministry, taking the ministry of electricity and water away and appointing Mohammad Bushehri as its minister. Also, newcomer Barrak Al-Sheetan was appointed finance minister.