Lawmaker proposes establishing new governorate

KUWAIT: Opposition MP Khaled Al-Otaibi yesterday questioned why the government did not raise the cost of living allowance for the past decade despite a steep rise in prices. In a question to Finance Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf, the lawmaker said that the council of ministers decided in 2008 to grant Kuwaitis with a cost of living of KD 120 monthly to cope with an increase in prices and inflation rate. He said that since then, the government did not consider raising the allowance despite the increase in the cost of living in the country.

The lawmaker said that ahead of deciding the allowance in 2008, a government spokesman said that it was based on a comprehensive study conducted by the finance ministry and a number of government departments in cooperation with the World Bank that included revising salaries and other benefits enjoyed by employees. He asked if the ministry has conducted a similar study in the past 10 years and demanded copies of such studies, and if not he asked for the reasons why the study was not made.

Otaibi asked the minister if the existing cost of living allowance has been revised and its value compared with the cost of living at present. He demanded the rates of inflation since 2009 and asked about the ministry's role in facing the continuous rise in such rates and their negative impact on the incomes of middle and low income families.

MP Osama Al-Shaheen meanwhile proposed the establishment of a new governorate in the country besides the six governorates to accommodate new areas in the south of the country. He said the new governorate should include Sabah Al-Ahmad City, Wafra and Khairan in addition to a number of neighboring areas. The new governorate should have its own educational, health and security authorities.

Deputy Speaker Essa Al-Kandari submitted a proposal yesterday to set up a national council for women to be entrusted with reviewing proposals and draft laws relating to women affairs before they are approved by the national assembly. Kandari said that the council should consist of a number of female experts who have experience in women affairs, adding that the council must be consulted before the national assembly approves any draft law relating to women or that could impact their affairs.

In other news, member of the parliamentary human resources committee Saleh Ashour said the committee asked the government to cancel the exemptions given to certain sectors from setting a specific ratio to appoint Kuwaitis, such as private universities, hospitals, hotels and touristic companies. Ashour added that government responses concerning replacing expats with citizens are good, but still below par, stressing that the committee will continue following up the Civil Service Commission's performance in this regard.

Moreover, Ashour said that the recent rally in Irada Square conveyed a message to the government, showing that people are dissatisfied with the grants and loans given to other countries worth billions of dinars, namely those who stood against Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion, while the Kuwaiti people are overburdened with loan interest. "The government must resolve this social dilemma," he underlined. In the meantime, MP Hamdan Al-Azmi said that the new disability bill is still being studied and demanded that it should include bedoons and children of Kuwaiti women in it.

By B Izzak and A Saleh