KUWAIT: Director of The Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) Musaed Mahmoud Al-Asoussi said that PACI will increase the charges collected for issuing civil ID cards from KD 2 to KD 5 and the charges for issuing a replacement from KD 10 to KD 20 from April. Asoussi explained that the fee increases had been recommended by the Audit Bureau because the actual cost of issuing ID cards exceeds KD 4.5, while the current fee is only KD 2.

Asoussi said PACI had accordingly finished adjusting its systems and that the recommendation had been reviewed by the fatwa and legislation department and PACI's board of directors before Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammed Al-Abdullah decided putting the new fees into effect from April 1.

Asousi added that PACI has around 136,000 cards ready for collection and urged citizens and expats to hurry up and collect them because the new fee would be applied even if the card had been issued before April 1 but collected after this date. He said PACI would soon receive a new printer to meet growing demand. "PACI issues around 9,000 ID cards and distributes 8,000-10,000 cards daily," he underlined.

Meanwhile, head of the National Assembly priorities committee MP Youssef Al-Zalzalah said yesterday that the mega Silk City project will be funded through several means of finance including the Build-Operate-Transfer and Public Private Partnership schemes. The lawmaker said the project is very huge, which involves building a new city in Subbiya besides other facilities. The project is scheduled to be debated by the Assembly on Feb 9 along with government proposals to lift or cut subsidies.

The government is expected to brief the Assembly with a comprehensive plan to cut spending and introduce economic reforms after the finance ministry announced the 2016/2017 budget with a record budget of over KD 11.5 billion. Zalzalah was quoted as saying in Al-Anbaa newspaper yesterday that the government will raise prices of petrol by up to 61 percent. He said that low-grade petrol (90) will be raised from 60 to 85 fils, high grade (95) from 65 to 105 fils while ultra-grade petrol (98) will be raised from 90 to 145 fils. He gave no indications about new electricity charges.

The Assembly bureau is scheduled to meet with the Supreme Planning Council and the government on Sunday to study the issue ahead of the Assembly session. Information Minister Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al-Sabah said yesterday that a national conference for rationalizing expenditures will be held early next month to launch an awareness campaign to stop squandering of public resources and misuse of services.

In another development, MP Abdullah Maayouf asked the finance ministry about alleged financial violations committed by the office of Justice Minister Yaqoub Al-Sane. He asked if financial controllers have made any remarks regarding the finances of the two ministries and authorities under them since Sept 2014. He inquired about the size of any financial violations found by the controllers and if any violations were committed by the minister's office in the two ministries. Maayouf demanded a list of the alleged violations and photocopies of the reports of the financial controllers about the two ministries.

Last week, Maayouf accused the minister of committing violations regarding politically-motivated appointments to boost the minister's electoral position. The lawmaker also threatened to grill the minister unless he stops such appointments.

By A Saleh and B Izzak