Tabtabai calls for raising lawmakers’ salary
KUWAIT: Deputy Speaker MP Essa Al-Kandari yesterday warned Oil Minister Essam Al-Marzouk that the appointment of a foreigner as the Chief Executive Officer of Equate Petrochemicals will represent a political embarrassment for the minister. Kandari said the minister ignored demands by MPs and warnings by oil experts against the appointment and its potential negative impact on the oil sector as a whole.
He also said that it was strange to appoint the CEO from DOW Chemical which had negative dealings with Kuwait after winning billions of dollars in fines paid from public funds. The lawmaker said that the measure will put the Oil Minister in political confrontation with MPs. Kandari wondered how the appointment was made despite recommendations and demands by the private sector represented in the company that a citizen must be appointed in the post and which rejected the appointment of a foreigner.
The lawmaker said that the decision was wrong because Equate manages an important national resource and it was much better to appoint a citizen to lead the company because they are more efficient than foreigners. A number of MPs have already criticized the appointment of a foreign executive and called for appointing a citizen in the sensitive post but the Oil Minister said the appointment was part of the joint venture deal with Dow Chemical which has been a partner to the state-owned Kuwait Petrochemicals Co in key petrochemicals projects.
But Dow received a fine exceeding $2 billion after Kuwait unilaterally pulled out of a large $17 billion joint venture. The fine was imposed following a lengthy arbitration. In the meantime, the Oil Ministry has informed five prominent oil executives that their contracts will not be renewed because they have completed their service duration or have reached the age of 60. Under the pension rules, employees who have worked for 35 years – or have reached 60 years will be retired.
MP Waleed Al-Tabtabai called yesterday for raising the salaries of lawmakers because of their wages are not enough. Tabtabai’s comments come after a controversy erupted over allegations that about 20 lawmakers, some of them opposition, have been receiving an additional salary from the government, raising suspicion about their finances. The Assembly explained that the additional salary was in line with the law and was being paid to MPs who had never received any retirement benefits before winning seats in the Assembly.
By B Izzak