MP threatens to grill Hajraf over deficit

MP Riyadh Al-Adasani

KUWAIT: Opposition MP Riyadh Al-Adasani yesterday threatened to grill Finance Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf over statements he made on Monday projecting a huge budget deficit for the 2019/2020 fiscal year. Adasani said Kuwait has an abundance of funds and has no budget deficit, but lacks efficient management of its wealth and financial resources, which leads to the budget shortfall. While unveiling the new fiscal year budget, Hajraf said Kuwait is projecting a deficit of KD 6.1 billion before the transfer of funds to the future generations fund and KD 7.7 billion after the transfer.

Kuwait has been posting a budget deficit since the 2015/2016 fiscal year due to the crash in the price of oil, from which Kuwait generates 90 percent of its total revenues. Adasani insisted that Kuwait has no budget deficit and on the contrary enjoys “billions in surpluses”, and “all we need is an efficient and wise management of the budget”. He claimed that supervision by government agencies and ministries over the budget has been deteriorating, adding that he intends to file to grill the finance minister in March if he did not take care of certain issues.

Adasani said he was following some financial intelligence about a former lawmaker who had reportedly accepted bribes from the government, adding that he should be referred to the public prosecution and that his case should not be shelved. In the budget announcement on Monday, Hajraf projected revenues of KD 16.4 billion, including KD 14.5 billion in oil income, and expenditure of KD 22.5 billion. The new budget starts on April 1 and must be approved by the National Assembly before it becomes effective.
Meanwhile, former MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji is due to appear before the public prosecution today to testify in the Dow Chemical case in which Kuwait paid over $2 billion in fines for unilaterally revoking a multibillion-dollar joint venture with the giant US firm. Turaiji is testifying because he was the head of the National Assembly’s public funds protection committee which investigated the Dow Chemical saga. The case was first shelved by the public prosecution but the criminal court a few weeks ago ordered it to reopen investigations into the controversial case.
MP Thamer Al-Suwait yesterday submitted a draft law calling to raise child allowance for Kuwaitis from KD 50 to KD 75 monthly. The lawmaker said the proposed hike comes to meet the rising cost of living and high inflation, adding that the last raise was made in 1992.

By B Izzak