KUWAIT: HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah (center) and other MPs are seen during a National Assembly session yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: The National Assembly yesterday overwhelmingly approved a request by the government to delay the debate of two grillings against HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah until May 10. The postponement was approved with little opposition and virtually without any discussion. Only eight MPs opposed the delay, with MP Mohammad Al-Mutair threatening to file another grilling.

The prime minister is facing two separate grillings filed by five lawmakers over allegations that the government has failed to check rampant corruption, mismanagement, deciding to hike petrol and power prices and others. The government did not raise any objection against the two grillings - as was expected - but this could happen before the start of the debate. Some government sources have claimed that at least one grilling is not in line with the rules of the constitution.

Meanwhile, the Assembly decided after a brief debate to form a five-member committee to investigate the resignation of Kuwait Airways' Chairwoman Rasha Al-Roumi. MP Jamaan Al-Harbash said the KAC chief resigned after claiming that local private airlines were being given preferential treatment ahead of KAC, the national carrier. The government had accepted the resignation and appointed a new board of directors. The Assembly is studying a draft law on the future of KAC.

The Assembly also asked the interior and defense committee to investigate allegations that up to 400,000 naturalized Kuwaitis had obtained citizenship through forgery. MPs strongly criticized the allegations raised in an Assembly session two weeks ago, mainly by Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem and others. Attempts by a number of MPs to have the reference to forgery taken off the minutes of the session failed.

The allegations were raised before the Assembly rejected a key legislation giving the judiciary the right to look into citizenship cases. The rejection by a comfortable majority that included all Cabinet members triggered opposition lawmakers to file to grill the prime minister. One of the issues was the revoking of citizenships. The committee was given until the next term starting late October to present its findings to the Assembly.

MPs also wanted to launch an investigation into why the domestic workers company has not yet been established in accordance with a law passed last year. But Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh told the Assembly that the company has indeed been established and it will commence full operations in August this year. Several MPs complained that the cost of the recruitment of domestic helpers has skyrocketed and became very expensive for most Kuwaitis.

The Assembly also approved a proposal to ask the public funds protection committee to probe allegations of financial and administrative violations at the information ministry. MPs gave the panel two months to prepare the report. Acting information minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah said that the ministry has formed committees to investigate the allegations and will present their findings to the Assembly panel. The Assembly continues the session today.

By B Izzak, Staff Writer