KUWAIT: The National Assembly asked the government yesterday to refer all ‘public funds waste’ incidents committed by cooperative societies to the Public Prosecution. In recommendations after the end of MP Saleh Ashour’s grilling of Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and Minister of State for Planning and Development Affairs Hind Al-Subaih, the parliament called for prosecuting cooperative societies’ board members for abusing their positions and wasting public funds.
The MPs urged the Minister of Social Affairs to help solve financial problems facing cooperative societies, and help societies boost their revenues by enrolling board members in training courses contributing to better decision-taking. They called for allowing cooperative societies to allocate part of their profits for social services in the residential areas.
The lawmakers also called on Social Affairs Ministry to pay attention to orphans. Subaih, in a statement after the interpellation, said she will implement the recommendations. She said the grilling was a chance to highlight the Ministry’s achievements and to pin point shortcomings as well. Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem hopes the government would implement the recommendations.
The grilling was filed to address cooperative societies’ privatization and suspended aid to orphans. According to Article 100 of the Kuwaiti Constitution, an MP can address an interpellation to the Prime Minister or ministers on matters and affairs pertinent to their ministries. Ashour said during the grilling’s debate that the step by Subaih to privatize Al-Dasma Cooperative Society was “unconstitutional.”
He said that privatizing Al-Dasma and Bnaid Al-Gar co-op was tantamount to a plot against the idea of the work of cooperative societies, adding that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor was complicit in the sale of Al-Dasma co-op on Feb 21, 2016, opening the door wide for further sales of other co-ops. MP Ashour decried, the way the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor has been dealing with Kuwaiti orphans housed in government orphan homes. He said the Ministry is not satisfactorily taking care of 136 state-sponsored orphans. He urged the Ministry not to forcibly evict orphans from state orphanages.
Minister refutes criticisms
Minister Subaih refuted the claims that she contemplated privatizing cooperative societies. In a rejoinder to Ashour’s criticism, the Social Affairs and Labor Minister affirmed that she is a proponent of co-ops and she values their services to society. She said during her administration, co-ops have prospered enormously – posting more than KD 57 million in profits in 2015, a far cry from KD 38 million in the years before she took office.
With regard to Al-Dasma co-op, which has experienced difficulties, Al-Subaih said the problems are being addressed and that the co-op’s General Assembly last February agreed to submit the co-op’s properties to being invested by outside investors in a bid to bring the co-op back to solvency. She noted that the Al-Dasma co-op has been running large deficits – by 2014 the deficit ran into KD 6 million. The minister stressed that the cooperative movement is progressing well and that the Ministry she headed is working for the best of the co-ops and the society together. – KUNA