Rampant corruption, squandering of public funds alleged

KUWAIT: MPs Shuaib Al-Muwaizri (right) and Riyadh Al-Adasani (left) arrive at the National Assembly yesterday. The two opposition lawmakers filed to question the prime minister over allegations of failure to control rampant corruption and for squandering public funds. - Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Opposition MPs Riyadh Al-Adasani and Shuaib Al-Muwaizri yesterday filed the second grilling against the prime minister over allegations of failure to check rampant corruption and stop squandering of public funds. The two lawmakers also accused HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah of failing to rectify the imbalance in the demographic structure, providing billions of dollars in grants and loans to foreign countries while reducing public subsidies at home, and failing to diversify the economy to find other sources of income.

The new grilling is the second against the prime minister, who has been in power since 2011, and comes amid a looming political crisis in the country just under five months since November's snap polls in which the opposition won around half of the 50 seats. National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said the new grilling will be listed on the agenda of the April 25 Assembly session to discuss setting a date for its debate.

The first grilling was filed on Wednesday by MPs Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, Mohammad Al-Mutair and Marzouq Al-Khalifa, and charged the government of the prime minister of being responsible for widespread corruption, imposing charges on public services and petrol and for punishing opponents by revoking their nationality.

The two grillings will be debated separately, but not before the Assembly holds an intensive debate on a number of question marks raised about a number of points in the first grilling. So far, there has been no comment from the prime minister or the government. Opposition MPs have strongly rejected any attempt to delay the debate or refer the grillings to the Assembly's legal and legislative committee to study if the grillings are in line with the constitution.

The two grillings have been submitted after the government and its supporters rejected last Tuesday amendments to the administrative court law that would have allowed those who have their citizenships revoked to go to court. At present, courts are not allowed to hear citizenship cases because they are a sovereign matter.

In their grilling yesterday, MPs Adasani and Muwaizri charged that the government has failed to safeguard public funds, citing a number of issues like the payment of the huge fine to Dow Chemical, losses at Kuwait Investment Authority and the social security establishment and suspicions around huge arms purchases. They also criticized the government for resorting to foreign borrowing through a bond sale, while several state-owned firms like Kuwait Petroleum Corp are holding assets worth KD 20 billion, which should have been sent to the state treasury. The grilling said that had these establishments handed over the funds to the government, there would have been no need to borrow to finance the budget deficit.

Under Kuwaiti law, MPs can file a non-cooperation motion against the prime minister following the debate of the grilling. If the motion gets the required votes, it will be sent to HH the Amir, who will decide whether to dismiss the premier and appoint another one or dissolve the Assembly and call for early elections.

By B Izzak