Marzouq Al-Ghanem
Marzouq Al-Ghanem

‘Kuwait parliament contributes to political stability: Speaker’

KUWAIT: Former Speaker of Kuwait’s National Assembly Marzouq Al-Ghanem said Saturday the parliament contributed to “imposing a state of political stability” in Kuwait amidst exceptional domestic and regional circumstances.

The wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah following the terrorist attack on Al-Sadeq Mosque and during capture of what is known as Al-Abdali cell, helped parliament contribute to achieve political stability, said Ghanem. This political stability “transformed the sedition (caused by the two incidents) into a national epic,” Ghanem said in an interview with Al-Rai TV channel on the eve of the parliament’s dissolution.

A suicide bombing targeted Al-Sadeq Mosque in downtown Kuwait in June 2015 killing some 28 people and injuring 227 others. The attack brought condemnations from around the world. In September 2015, the public prosecutor lodged criminal charges against the terrorist cell known as the “Al-Abdali Cell,” in which 26 defendants were put on trial over possession of huge caches of weapons and ammunition, as well as espionage for Iran and Hezbollah.

Asked about the upcoming parliamentary elections, Ghanem said dissolving the parliament was “a decision solely adopted by His Highness the Amir, for he is the person with authority over this issue.” Ghanem further stated that the number of interpellations of ministers by members of the now dissolved parliament is the biggest in the history of parliamentary life in Kuwait. “As a result of such grillings, six cabinet members resigned.”

“However, I don’t consider this a criterion for assessing the performance of the parliament. The true criterion is specified in the provisions of the constitution that set the parameters of effective supervision on the performances of government bodies through the reports of the State Audit Bureau (SAB),” he said.

SAB representatives attend the parliament sessions and raise questions directly to ministers, he pointed out. “The SAB reports used to have no role in previous parliaments except in case of grilling. The ministers used to pay no attention to such reports. But, due to activation of these reports, the ministers set up teams in their respective ministries to review the SAB observations. “As a result, the number such observations went down by 52 percent, which means that we are on the right track,” Ghanem went on.

113 laws
Regarding the legislative role of the parliament, he said the MPs passed a total of 113 laws, including the one on the right of an individual to take lawsuits to the Constitutional Court. He noted that this right has been a national issue over the last four decades.

The recently-adopted legislations also include amendments to the law on commercial franchises, the retirement benefits law, the law on municipal reforms, and the law on pensioners’ medical insurance, he said, noting that the medical insurance system covers a total of 800 diseases. The new tendering law put an end to foul play and helped attract foreign investors without need of local agent, Ghanem pointed out.

The amended law on housemaids cut to a quarter the cost of employing foreign maids and ended foul play in this field, thus benefiting the Kuwaiti families. The law on the national human rights diwan and the law on the rights of disabled schoolchildren and slow learning show that the lawmakers pay attention to care for persons with special needs, he noted.

On the controversial genetic fingerprinting law, he said it is based on a legal opinion from the Fatwa and Legislation Dept. following the terrorist attack on Imam Al-Sadeq Mosque. “An understanding has been reached with His Highness the Prime Minister on the need to amend the law so that fingerprints would be taken from suspected persons instead of all persons,” Ghanem disclosed.

Fuel prices
Dealing with the controversy over the government decision to hike the fuel prices, he said the issue is a technical, rather than political, one. “The government made this decision during the interval between the legislative terms, which prompted me to call for a joint meeting by the government and the parliament’s office.

“The decision was part of the government efforts to preserve the sovereign credit rating of the country after Moody’s cautioned that it would revise down Kuwait’s rating unless the government adopts urgent measures to address the economic challenges,” he noted. “Nevertheless, we were able to find smart solutions that do not affect the standard of living of citizens through redirecting the subsidy from the commodity (fuel) to citizens,” he added. – KUNA