KUWAIT: Kuwaiti MPs attend a parliament session at the National Assembly in Kuwait City yesterday. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: The National Assembly yesterday approved the capital spending budget for the current fiscal year 2018/2019 which is projected at around KD 3.2 billion out of the total projected spending of around KD 21.5 billion. MPs strongly criticized government financial policies and called for updating a number of key laws especially the civil service law, but at the end of the debate they approved the budget.

This is the second year running that the Assembly debates and approves the capital spending separately in a bid to pay greater attention to development projects. The Assembly also approved the budget and the final statement for the Roads Authority. Head of the Budgets Committee MP Adnan Abdulsamad said that the budget ceiling was initially set at KD 20 billion but the government later came up with the addition of KD 1.5 billion. He said that the budget is being presented with figures that differ from what the development plan and government program advocate.

Abdulsamad said the Assembly is debating the capital spending or development projects budget so in order not to be blamed for delaying development projects. He said that 88 percent of revenues come from oil income which is a big distortion as the budget depends on one source for income, adding the National Assembly should hold a special session to debate the issue. The lawmaker said that the state-owned touristic enterprises company has squandered around KD 288 million and there are state debt of over KD 1.2 billion that has not been collected, mostly from the private sector.

During the debate, MPs raised the issue of the dispute between the Cabinet and the Audit Bureau which is overseen by the National Assembly and reviews all government contracts before they are signed. MPs claimed that the Bureau has rejected some 200 contracts but the Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh said that the Bureau has rejected some 40 projects of which the Cabinet approved nine. MP Riyadh Al-Adasani held the previous Assembly responsible for allowing the government to raise the price of petrol but members of that Assembly said the decision was taken during summer recess.

Also during the debate, MP Safa Al-Hashem clashed with MPs Hamdan Al-Azemi and Abdulkarim Al-Kundari after she criticized the prime minister over government policies. The two lawmakers blamed Hashem for criticizing the premier now but did not sign the non-cooperation motion against him following his grilling two weeks ago. MP Khalil Al-Saleh criticized that out of the capital spending of KD 3.2 billion, health projects account for just 10 percent while education projects account for only two percent.

By B Izzak