Grilling details ‘squandering billions of dollars’

KUWAIT: MPs Riyadh Al-Adasani and Bader Al-Mulla yesterday filed to grill Finance Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf over alleged administrative and financial violations and wrong doings that cost state finances billions of dollars. Acting Speaker Issa Al-Kundari said he has received a copy of the grilling and informed the government, adding that it will be listed on the agenda of June 11 session for a possible debate if the minister does not request a delay.
Hajraf said he was informed of the grilling by the deputy Speaker, adding that the grilling is an essential constitutional right for lawmakers and that he does not have anything to be afraid of. The minister said the grilling is an opportunity to explain to the Kuwaiti people the efforts he has undertaken, adding that he will fully cooperate with the National Assembly.

The grilling is based on some major issues: lack of control over state budget which prevented reforms, harming the rights of pensioners through the mismanagement of the funds of the social security authority and incurring heavy losses in the Kuwaiti investments overseas because of adopting unwise investment policies.

KUWAIT: MPs Bader Al-Mulla and Riyadh Al-Adasani are pictured after they filed to grill Finance Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf over alleged financial violations and wrong doings yesterday. — Photo by Fouad Al-Shaikh

The grilling detailed cases in which either the Finance Ministry or the Kuwait Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, and other institutions under the ministry have lost billions of dollars either in bad investment decisions or through mismanagement and wrongdoing. The grilling claims that KIA invested some 600 million euros in French nuclear company Areva and after a few years, the investment was sold for just 83 million euros, incurring a loss of 517 million euros.

It also showed a long list of losses incurred by investment funds, mostly overseas, which cost KIA massive losses that topped at least one billion dollars. The grilling also claimed that one of the companies under the Finance Ministry, Touristic Enterprises Co, has lost around KD 290 million through mysterious decisions and actions that the ministry has failed to discover.
It said that the KIA incurred some $468 million in losses from the bankruptcy of several companies in which it held various stakes. The KIA and other establishments lost compensation claims worth hundreds of millions of dollars in legal disputes with several countries. The grilling said that the social security agency lost some $190 million from a $200 million investment in Everest Capital Global Fund while KIA lost some $300 million from bad investments in several international investment funds.

It said that the ministry resorted to borrowing from international and domestic markets to the tone of $8 billion while at the same time, government deposits at the central bank exceeded KD 9 billion and profits held by some government establishments like KPC were more than KD 20 billion. These should have been transferred to state coffers. In addition, the government has failed to collect more than KD. 1.34 billion in uncollected revenue and charges on public services.

By B Izzak