The National Assembly

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The National Assembly's legal and legislative committee yesterday cleared a draft law banning the government from raising charges on public services without the prior approval of the Assembly. The bill now goes to the financial and economic affairs committee to review it and send a report to the Assembly for debate and approval.

The bill stipulates to amend a 1995 law that bans the government from raising charges on public services without the Assembly's approval, but allows the government to raise the prices of petroleum products. The amendment says any increase in charges or prices must be approved by the Assembly first. A large number of lawmakers have vowed to prevent the government from imposing new taxes on citizens amid fears the government is planning to impose taxes and new charges in the wake of a sharp drop in oil revenues.

The committee also approved a number of draft laws calling to amend the electoral law, with some of the amendments calling to return to the 2012 law in which voters were allowed to elect up to four candidates. Committee rapporteur MP Mohannad Al-Sayer said one of the proposals calls to adopt a new system where voters vote for a list of candidates rather than one individual candidate.

Meanwhile, leading opposition lawmaker Bader Al-Dahoum yesterday sharply criticized Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem, calling him "an employee of the government". He also blasted the government and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah for failing to face a grilling filed by three opposition MPs and for allegedly "paralyzing the country".

Dahoum said the government has submitted its resignation to HH the Amir and "we are awaiting its acceptance". But he warned the prime minister, if selected to form the next Cabinet, from bringing back Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh in the new line-up, strongly criticizing the minister. The lawmaker said MPs will insist that the government cooperates to pass a number of essential laws, especially a general pardon law, Kuwaitization of jobs, amending the election law and others.