KUWAIT: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem speaks during a press conference at the National Assembly yesterday. – Photo by Fouad Al-Shaikh

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said yesterday that the Assembly sessions today and tomorrow will go ahead as scheduled to debate the questioning of two ministers and other issues related to the coronavirus. The speaker’s announcement came after a strong warning by the health ministry that it was not responsible for the consequences of the sessions because they do not meet health requirements in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

The health ministry warning was expressed in a letter sent by the government to the Assembly, saying that because the number of those expected to attend will exceed 100 people, the ministry is not responsible for the consequences. The ministry demanded that “virtual sessions” should be held to conduct Assembly business, but Ghanem said there are legislative and constitutional restrictions against holding sessions online.

HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah visited the Assembly yesterday and informed the speaker that the government presence will be limited just to secure the legal requirements of the sessions. Ghanem said the government letter will be placed on the agenda for debate. He said the Assembly may also meet on Thursday if necessary.

He said the first day will be allocated to debating two grillings against Minister of Education Saud Al-Harbi for not cancelling the current school year over the virus, and Minister of Finance Barrak Al-Sheetan over a variety of issues, mainly contracts signed during the coronavirus crisis, not acting sufficiently regarding a major corruption scam and others. Sheetan yesterday denied rumors on social media that he has resigned, insisting that he will attend the Assembly session to refute all allegations.

The Audit Bureau said yesterday that government agencies signed some 732 contracts in the past three months during the coronavirus crisis and the contracts are worth KD 916 million. The health ministry signed 248 contracts worth KD 249 million.

In the meantime, MPs yesterday called on authorities to reveal the names of MPs and officials suspected of playing a major role in a visa trading scam run by a Bangladeshi lawmaker. The interior ministry has described the scam as one of the biggest “trafficking in persons” and residency scams in the country, saying that a network of government officials and companies were involved in the scam.

MPs and local media however said at least two current MPs and a former MP are involved in the case and called for the publication  of their names. MP Abdulwahab Al-Babtain called for publishing the names of all those suspected to be involved in the scam, adding they should be held to account and become an example for others. MP Riyadh Al-Adasani said that all government agencies should be transparent while dealing with the scam and should submit all necessary documents to the public prosecution.

Meanwhile, MP Mohammad Al-Mutair asked the interior minister yesterday if around 60,000 criminal files have disappeared from the ministry database over the past five years. He asked the minister if an investigation was launched into these allegations and what was the outcome, and if the files were used in any way against the national interests of the country.