Bushehri resigns after grilling, blames ‘influential’ contractors

Tabtabaei: Roads broken like biscuits • Interior minister grilled in open session

KUWAIT: Picture combo shows MP Omar Al-Tabtabaei and Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Housing Affairs Jenan Bushehri during a grilling debate yesterday. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: In a dramatic turn of events, Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Housing Affairs Jenan Bushehri yesterday announced her resignation from the government at the end of a lengthy grilling in the National Assembly, which she accused “influential” contractors of backing. The minister announced her resignation after 10 MPs filed a no-confidence motion against her amid reports that a second motion was also signed by 10 more MPs. Parliamentary sources even said that as many as 25 lawmakers were ready to support the no-confidence motion, the number required to dismiss her.
“I am proud that I stood against the grilling of companies and contractors. I am proud that I did not sign some transactions for some of those who stood against me,” the minister said. “I stood with public funds and the state and they were the price for the no-confidence motion against me. I announce my resignation and place it in the hands of the prime minister,” she said. “Reform has become an impossible task. Companies in the Abdullah Al-Salem (Assembly) chamber are stronger than reform and the interests of the nation,” she concluded.
Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he received a no-confidence motion signed by 10 lawmakers and set Nov 21 for a special session to vote on the motion. He said that the session will stand until he is notified officially that the resignation has been accepted. The Assembly later began the grilling debate of Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah by MP Riyadh Al-Adasani in an open session, after the government’s request for a closed door session did not get the required majority. The Assembly also removed a grilling against the former finance minister after he resigned.
Earlier, Bushehri refuted allegations by MP Omar Al-Tabtabaei, who grilled her, that she committed several legal and financial violations. She said that she barred 14 companies from housing projects because they were very late in completing their projects, adding that she wrote to the Council of Ministers to bar them by the government. The minister also said she imposed a total of KD 24 million in fines, the highest in history, on violating companies, adding she has signed housing contracts worth KD 232 million and public works contracts worth over KD 800 million.
Tabtabaei accused the ministry of delaying key projects and impacting development, adding that as a result of the ministry failing to carry out its projects, the Amiri Diwan took over from the ministry and completed them. He charged that employees who fight against corruption in the ministry are sent for interrogation, while those who are serious about work are sidelined.
Tabtabaei strongly criticized the ministry for failure to deal with roads, “which are broken like biscuits”. He also charged that key housing projects are delayed and that 50 percent of housing projects are late. MP Safa Al-Hashem defended the minister and her achievements, but said she has become a scapegoat for some problems.

By B Izzak