National Assembly considering virtual meetings

By B Izzak
KUWAIT: More cooperative societies have been closed after some of their workers tested positive for the coronavirus. After shutting Khaldiya and Adailiya coops, the main supermarkets of Daiya, Mansouriya, Nuzha, Shamiya and Mubarak Al-Kabeer and others were shut over the virus. The interior ministry meanwhile warned that people who do not abide by the health ministry decision to wear a facemask will be referred for interrogation.
The Blood Bank and Kuwait Nursing Association yesterday mourned the death of Indian nurse Annie Mathew after she contracted the coronavirus. Mathew, 54, returned from leave from her home in Kerala less than three months ago. She is the fourth medical staff to die of the coronavirus after two doctors from Egypt and India and a Filipina nurse reportedly died of the disease.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly is considering amendments that would allow holding virtual sessions in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said after an informal meeting with MPs. The meeting was held immediately after cancelling a scheduled session because the government did not attend.

Ghanem said that there is a need to make amendments to the Assembly’s charter to allow holding virtual sessions and work is ongoing to achieve that. He did not give a timeframe for completing the amendments but added that some panels like the financial and economic affairs committees are holding virtual meetings. The speaker said holding sessions is essential, but added that he will convey the opinions of MPs on several issues.

The Assembly session was scheduled to discuss a controversy over contracts signed by government departments during the coronavirus crisis and allegations that some of the contacts were inflated. Ghanem said that the Audit Bureau will make a presentation to lawmakers on Sunday on all contracts signed by the government during coronavirus crisis. The value of the contracts is estimated at just under KD 700 million.

MP Saadoun Hammad said MPs called during the meeting to end the school year and to resolve the problem of a number of Kuwaitis who have not been receiving salaries because of some procedural issues. A number of MPs also demanded a quick resolution of the issue of thousands of expats who were illegally living in the country and registered to benefit from an interior ministry amnesty.

Although over 25,000 expats registered in the amnesty program, only 6,900 of them have departed for home, including 4,300 Egyptians and about 1,900 Filipinos. MP Yousef Al-Fadhalah said the government must resolve this issue quickly by applying more pressure on governments of guest workers to allow their repatriation.