By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The National Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved two emergency Amiri decrees issued by HH the Amir ahead of the Sept 29 parliamentary elections to regulate the snap polls. The first decree stipulated the use of civil IDs for establishing the identity of voters and proving their residential address, while the second decree added several residential areas to electoral districts after they were previously excluded, thus adding tens of thousands of new voters.

Fifty-three members, including Cabinet ministers, approved the decrees, while only three MPs opposed them. The Constitutional Court last week rejected petitions challenging that the two decrees violated the constitution and demanded scrapping them and nullifying the election process.

Meanwhile, the Assembly completed the debate of the Amiri address delivered on the opening day of the new house, with many MPs calling on the government to forge ahead with political, economic, social and administrative reforms. At the end of the debate, remarks made by MPs were sent to a three-MP panel responsible for preparing the response to the Amiri address.

MP Saud Al-Asfour stressed that political reforms are the true prelude to other reforms, mainly reforming the election system through approving legislation for legalizing political groups (parties) and collective lists of candidates to replace the current individual-based system. He said we cannot talk about a new era while we are still heavily burdened with problems of the past, especially rampant corruption where billions of dinars of public funds had been stolen, adding that the government must track down these funds and recover them.

MP Hamad Al-Obaid said that there can be no development and progress without halting and fighting corruption and widespread bribery. MP Osama Al-Zaid also insisted that political reforms are the most important and key for all other reforms, adding the government must fight the use of money in politics. MP Fares Al-Otaibi called for diversifying sources of income and stop total dependence on oil as the only source of income, contributing 90 percent to state revenues. MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari said the country needs true political, administrative, financial and legal reforms, adding the election system must be reformed with the establishment of an election commission.

Finance Minister Abdulwahab Al-Rasheed said on Wednesday that Kuwait has over 163,000 retired people, with just over 37,000 of them receiving pensions below KD 1,000 per month. In a reply to a question by MP Jenan Bushehri, the minister added some 30,000 retired people receive pensions over KD 2,000 per month, while 56,550 of them draw a monthly pension between KD 1,000 and 1,500. Of the retired people, around 40,000 receive pensions between KD 1,500 and KD 2,000. The next Assembly session is on Dec 13.