Oil minister Ali Al-Omair
Oil minister Ali Al-Omair

KUWAIT: MP Ahmad Al-Qudhaibi yesterday reasserted the ‘absolute right’ of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah to conduct cabinet reshuffles and appoint ministers to his cabinet. The lawmaker was commenting on the situation regarding Oil Minister Ali Al-Omair, who has been the subject of major criticism in the parliament regarding his policies in hiring senior officials at the state’s main oil companies. On that regard, Qudhaibi, also the rapporteur of the parliament’s legal and legislative affairs committee, urged the premier and the government to take into consideration that a grilling motion had been also filed against the resigning Minister of Public Works, Minister of Electricity and Water Ahmad Al-Jassar, noting that this issue had to be settled before reshuffling Omair. “We will not allow avoiding the grilling motion by reshuffling” he said.

Qudhaibi was commenting on newspaper reports which suggested that Omair is most likely to be assigned with the Ministry of Public Works’ portfolio, while Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh would take over the oil ministry’s portfolio on interim basis. State Minister of Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah had been assigned as the Acting Minister of Electricity and Water after Jassar submitted his resignation last September after a court sentenced him and 14 former and current officials from the ministry 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. Last week, MP Saadoun Hammad filed a request to grill Jassar over alleged financial and administrative violations in the airport expansion project.

MPs’ immunity
Separately, the parliament’s legal and legislative affairs committee refused in its meeting yesterday lifting parliamentary immunity from MPs Saleh Ashour and Abduallah Al-Maayouf. The committee also forwarded a proposed law on fundraising to Health, Social Affairs and Labor Committee, Qudhaibi, said in statement after the meeting. Meanwhile, the committee has delayed taking a decision on a bill reforming the law of national fund for the development of small and medium enterprises to the next meeting for further study.

Banned books
in another development, MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan said yesterday that liberties are being violated at the Kuwait International Book Fair as five books from Oman had so far been confiscated. “The information ministry must work on returning those books,” he demanded, pointing out that the ministry had brought accountability upon itself and that it is ought to explain why those books were banned. Commenting on the parliamentary educational affairs committee’s meeting yesterday, Duwaisan said that the committee did not discuss swine flu cases in some schools because only isolated cases were so far discovered, adding that a Ministry of Education official must be summoned to discuss this issue.

By A Saleh and KUNA