KUWAIT: His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah attends an extraordinary session of the National Assembly to discuss procedures to deal with COVID-19 yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah said the damage caused to the owners of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) was “painful,” and the same goes for the educational attainment of students and the failure of athletes to practice their activities. “But the greater pain is the continuing epidemic situation amid the rise (of cases),” he said in a speech at the extraordinary session of the National Assembly, held yesterday to discuss governmental procedures and policies in dealing with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the mutated strains.

“Today we completed a year and we welcome a new one, and now, after 45 days of the new year, we have begun to enter into an alarming situation, as the number of deaths in the past 15 days has reached 50 cases,” said the Premier. “Occupancy of intensive care beds and hospital admissions has increased largely, as we are heading towards reaching five intensive care units at Mubarak Hospital,” he noted.

“We must pause and examine this matter and adhere to what needs to be done. Yes, we suffer from the damage of small and medium businesses, and we suffer from the damage to our children’s educational achievements, and we suffer when athletes do not practice their activities, but the biggest pain is when we see the situation continues to rise,” he stressed.

“With cooperation, solidarity, understanding, acceptance and implementation, yes, we went through losses, but we passed the stage of ascension, then stabilized, and now we have a second wave. If we do not cooperate, stand together and understand what is required to do, the situation will be difficult for everyone, the whole world has been affected and we must deal with reality,” he continued.

“The readings that the officials had prepared are based on careful follow-ups and analysis that reached conclusions that the executive and legislative authorities must take into account. We all appreciate their hard work and dedication.” His Highness expressed his thanks to the members of the National Assembly for submitting the request to hold this extraordinary session, which shows the interest of the National Assembly in following up the government’s actions towards the pandemic.

Minister of Commerce and Industry and Minister of State for Economic Affairs Faisal Al-Medlej had affirmed earlier that SME owners are one of the main and important cornerstones of commercial sustainability and development in Kuwait. According to His Highness the Prime Minister’s directives, the Board of Directors of the National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises Development formed a committee to look into the defaulting projects and financiers, said the minister.

He stated that a committee was formed in mid-January, consisting of NGOs, federations concerned with these projects, and consultants from the Ministry of Commerce, to help solve any existing problems the SMEs owners are facing. The minister also said that the Financial Security Law was one of the very important draft laws that were discussed in the previous legislative term of the National Assembly, but was not approved. Therefore, the committee presented a more comprehensive view towards the beneficiaries of this law.

The Cabinet on Monday had examined a petition presented by entrepreneurs of SMEs, in the aftermath of the resolution closing some commercial businesses and decided to financially support this segment of the labor force, according to the law of establishing the National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprise Development.

Additionally, the Cabinet decided to assign the National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprise Development to work out mechanisms for disbursement of the funds for the eligible businessmen. The decision is effective as of March and valid for three months. Another decision stipulates assigning the competent authorities to delay payment of the State services fees to the entrepreneurs whose businesses have been shut for three months. – KUNA