KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah today opens the new term of the National Assembly which is expected to start with a discussion of a grilling against the Social Affairs and Labor Minister over alleged irregularities. The Amir will address the lawmakers about the local, regional and international situation. The address will be followed by the government statement to be delivered by the Prime Minister in which he will outline the government projects over the next year.
The session will witness the election of the Assembly secretary and the supervisor and immediately followed by the discussion of a grilling filed by MP Mohammad Tana to Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Sabeeh. The debate of the grilling however is unlikely to take place at the opening session as the minister is expected to ask for a two-week delay. The submission of the grilling ahead of the term opening is a precedence in Kuwait’s parliamentary history as MPs normally waited until after the term started.
The grilling alleges the minister of committing a number of financial and administrative violations at the ministry’s various departments. Tana’s grilling is not the only questioning as several MPs have threatened to grill the ministers of oil, commerce and industry, finance, health and others. MP Khalil Al-Saleh in the meantime has decided to delay filing a grilling against Oil Minister Ali Al-Omair over alleged violations in the oil sector and the agricultural authority which comes under his supervision.
Following the discussion of the grilling, the national assembly will elect 11 permanent panels including the key financial and economic affairs, legal and legislative affairs, interior and defense and foreign relations committees. A number of temporary panels might be elected too depending on proposals by lawmakers. If Sabeeh decides to accept the grilling debate in today’s session, election of committees is expected to be postponed because of time considerations. The new term should last for at least eight months.
In another development, MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji said yesterday he has filed a complaint at the newly-established Anti-Corruption Authority against the director of the Customs Department for allegedly covering up corruption cases, bribery and irregularities in public funds. He said he has submitted documents to prove his accusations of the customs chief and expected that the authority will take legal measures in accordance with its law. The lawmaker said that he had repeatedly warned the finance minister about rife corruption in the customs department and urged him to take legal actions. He said that recently, detectives have busted a number of employees at the customs department involved in corruption and bribery, a case that supports his accusations. Turaiji called on the finance minister to dismiss a number of employees at the customs department including the director because leaving them in their positions will send a wrong message for those who want to steal public funds.