Public revenues rise, but wages eat up over half the budget

KUWAIT: MPs yesterday continued to press new Prime Minister HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah to form a government with a clear roadmap to tackle major challenges facing the country, mainly fighting corruption and resolving the problem of stateless people. MP Adel Al-Damkhi called on the premier, who was appointed to the post for the first time after serving as foreign minister for several years, to fight corruption and select ministers for the Cabinet “who have no black record”.

He said the premier should not pick his Cabinet based on interests or quotas or to make some people happy, warning the prime minister that he will bear the consequences of his selections. Damkhi also urged the prime minister to have a clear development plan that pays great attention to development and safeguards the interests of the nation. The lawmaker said the new government should apply the law equally and should apply a real development plan unlike previous Cabinets which were “full of big words but no substance”.

MP Thamer Al-Suwait said the prime minister must have a clear national roadmap that paves the way for resolving major problems in the country including citizenship matters, bedoons and achieving people’s aspirations. He said the premier must pay greater attention to resolving financial problems facing the Kuwaiti people, recalling that the country has provided loans worth KD 22 billion to 160 countries, while there are 400,000 Kuwaiti debtors in the country.
With the ministers of defense and interior dismissed and the foreign ministry vacant after his appointment as PM, Sheikh Sabah is faced with the possibility of forming a Cabinet with almost new faces. Other ministers who may not return include the minister of public works Jenan Bushehri, who resigned following a grilling and former finance minister Nayef Al-Hajraf, who also resigned before facing a grilling. MPs have also objected to the return of the ministers of education and health and minister of state for Cabinet affairs. There have also been some objections against the minister of commerce and industry.

Meanwhile, the finance ministry told the Assembly’s budgets committee yesterday that government staff wages in the past fiscal year – 2018/2019 – topped KD 11.4 billion, more than half of the total spending of KD 21.8 billion. It also said oil revenues reached KD 18.4 billion and made up around 90 percent of total public revenues as a result of an increase in oil prices.

By B Izzak