By B Izzak

KUWAIT: During the National Assembly session yesterday, MPs called on the government to take extra measures to resolve the decades-old housing crisis, and pay greater attention to improving education and health services. During their debate of the Amiri Address, delivered by the prime minister at the current term's opening session in October, the lawmakers also called on authorities to create more jobs for Kuwaiti graduates by replacing expats. They also expressed strong rejection of reported government plans to impose taxes and charges.

Opposition MP Saifi Al-Saifi said he has submitted a motion to hold a special session to debate a draft law that will allow courts to handle cases related to Kuwaiti citizenship, currently considered a sovereign issue that courts are banned from hearing. MP Fares Al-Otaibi asked the finance minister why the ministry is delaying the implementation of a law to transfer Kuwait Airways into a commercial company.

MP Osama Al-Munawer claimed the government is intentionally exhausting assets in the state reserve fund through financing arms deals and foreign aid with the aim to impose financial burdens on citizens. He asked the finance minister why the ministry is not transferring profits of state-owned companies to the state reserve fund. The next Assembly session will be held on Jan 26 to vote on the no-confidence motion against the defense minister. The next regular session is after two weeks.

Meanwhile, seven lawmakers said yesterday they will vote in support of Defense Minister Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah, who is facing a no-confidence vote next week filed by 10 opposition MPs. Six of the seven MPs were until recently among the opposition group which enjoyed a strength of 31 lawmakers in the 50-seat National Assembly. They include MPs Obaid Al-Wasmi, Bader Al-Humaidi, Farz Al-Mutairi, Fayez Al-Jamhour, Saud Al-Mutairi and Musaed Al-Mutairi. The seventh is pro-government MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji.

The declaration means that the chances of the opposition to unseat the defense minister have become too slim and the no-confidence motion is expected to falter. This is because around another 15 pro-government MPs are expected to back the minister.

The motion was filed on Tuesday following a grilling by MP Hamdan Al-Azemi, who accused the minister of violating Kuwait's traditions by allowing women to join the military and for failing to take proper actions against suspected corruption in the multibillion-dollar deal to purchase 28 Eurofighter warplanes. The minister denied the charges in the grilling. The opposition needs the support of at least 24 MPs to vote the minister out of office, but with today's declaration, that possibility looks highly unlikely.