Ahmad Al-Jassar
Ahmad Al-Jassar

KUWAIT: Minister of Electricity and Water and Public Works Ahmad Al-Jassar submitted his resignation yesterday and did not attend the regular meeting of the Cabinet as a result. Jassar tendered his resignation after the lower court on Monday sentenced him and 14 former and current officials from the ministry of electricity and water to a two-year jail term and dismissal from service, with an option to pay KD 1,000 to suspend the imprisonment. They were also fined KD 20,000 each.

The sentence was passed over the so-called electricity emergency deal that cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars in a major corruption scandal in 2007. Jassar was a senior ministry official when the graft scandal took place as he was a member of a committee that sanctioned importing a number of power generators that were found to be faulty and secondhand. The minister’s lawyer yesterday appealed against the ruling, claiming innocence.

In the meantime, MP Youssef Al-Zalzalah yesterday called on the prime minister to make an expanded reshuffle to his Cabinet to overcome “incompetence”. The lawmaker, who has been a strong supporter of the government, said the Cabinet has failed, and accordingly a major reshuffle must be undertaken. Zalzalah said that MPs have been patient towards the government in order to give it enough time to perform, but it has failed in every aspect, and as such change is necessary. He specifically criticized agonizing routine and red tape in the commerce and industry ministry where a change to the company’s address may take months.

MP Mohammad Tana meanwhile is reported to be preparing to file to grill Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Subaih over a number of issues. The lawmaker yesterday sent a series of questions to the minister over tenders the ministry awarded recently. He had also criticized the minister for rejecting his proposal to grant Kuwaiti women social assistance after reaching the age of 40.

By B Izzak