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Kuwait’s Prime Minister Releases “100-Day” Reform Plan

On Tuesday, the National Assembly received the official presentation of the government’s work program. HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah stated: “We are receiving a new era full of determination, optimism, and national responsibility” in his speech regarding the program. As a government and council, we will put in a lot of effort to strengthen positive collaboration and step up our efforts to serve the nation and represent the dreams and ambitions of its people.

The government confirmed that “the cost of financial and economic reform will increase the longer we delay in addressing this issue, and confronting it may become extremely difficult, along with harsh and painful consequences” in the work program, which is titled “A Just, Safe, and Sustainable Homeland.” In order to ensure that graduates have access to productive employment opportunities and that economic and social well-being are sustained over time, it was emphasized that “the pivotal goal of economic reform in Kuwait is to achieve balance in the structure of the national economy by redrawing the government’s role in economic activity in a way that restores the private sector’s leading role.” It made clear that the work program’s objectives are to meet relevant parties’ expectations and manage financial resources properly in order to provide residents with long-term, sustainable well-being. Additionally, it said that the first stage is to bring Article 20 of the Constitution into effect by increasing the chances for investment so that the private sector may generate jobs across the country in a variety of economic sectors, which is the primary objective of the government work program.

It has certain milestones that need to be accomplished in 100 days, the most notable of which are listed below: Implement the amendment to law number 71/2023 regarding adding housewives to the health insurance beneficiaries. Handover of the maternity hospital. Inauguration of the Kuwait Compulsory Insurance Complex. Launching of the digital platform for companies and commercial licenses. Studying the financial, economic, and technical feasibility of a railway link between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Research centers for artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. ● Establish additional medical facilities and hospitals ● Introduce the Ministry of Health application with a refreshed look and expanded offerings Launch the medical human capital development program; Receive Khatib Lounge at Arab Sports Club; Receive Jaber Al-Mubarak Stadium at Sulaibikhat Sports Club; Submit a draft law amending the Tenders Law; Reprize government services that are not legally binding and have little effect on citizens; Reduce the cost of land rents associated with the State Property Administration; Draft a law on corporate profits tax; Research the categories eligible for support; Facilitate the next wave of savings in government contracts. In the second session of the government work program, the legislative requirements for its projects were also outlined. The following laws have been amended: the Development Plan Law; the Import and Export Law; the Draft Law on Electronic Commerce; the Draft Law on Public Wages; the Establishment of an Independent Body for Standards and Metrology; the Draft Law on Amending the Right of Access Law; the Draft Law on Amending the Electronic Documentation Law; the Business Profits Tax Law; the Re-pricing of Land Rentals; the Excise Tax; the Liquidity Instruments Law; the Foreigners Residency Law; the Civil Aviation Law; the Law on Electricity and Water Corporation Law; the Law on the Strategic Transformation for Electric Energy and Water; the Law on Media Regulation;

During Tuesday’s regular session of the National Assembly, the government requested to postpone the discussion and voting on the bills’ parliamentary committee reports for a month in order to conduct additional research. Given the new government, this request was the most significant of the several incoming letters that were discussed.

Some MPs backed the proposal from the new administration, arguing that since the Assembly had granted a request of a similar nature made by the previous government, which was led by HH the former prime minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the new government should be treated equally. Other Members of Parliament countered that even if the Assembly had previously granted a request of a similar nature, it was because of the previous government’s collaboration that four legislation were ratified.

They made the observation that, given its lack of commitment to pass the legislation should they be addressed beyond the one-month grace period, the new administration seemed to be buying time. The chairman of the Priorities Committee revealed that numerous options were discussed during their meeting with the government, including voting on urgent bills in the first reading and holding a second reading session on March 5, 2024, when the government is prepared to offer its viewpoint. He continued by saying that the government’s rejection of all other choices shows how reluctant it is to approve the legislation.

However, State Minister for the National Assembly and Youth Affairs Dawoud Maarefi stated that the new administration shares the Assembly’s commitment to raising the standard of living for all residents and guaranteeing the State’s financial stability. Sheriada Al-Meosherji, the minister of state for cabinet affairs and deputy prime minister, emphasized that raising the standard of living for the people is the primary goal of the government’s work program. He clarified that the intention behind the request to delay the bill’s discussion is to allow the government ample time to thoroughly review the legislation before offering its assessment. Nevertheless, MPs Bader Nashmi, Abdulkareem Al-Kandari, Mubarak Al-Hajraf, and others emphasized that this official justification is not acceptable, given that technical teams from several ministries have previously reviewed the laws and turned in their assessments. They also confirmed their support for the laws and mentioned that some of the ministers in the new government were in the old one. They argued that institutions shouldn’t alter just because ministers do. The government’s request was put to a public vote, with 30 votes in favor and 33 against, in order to resolve the disagreement.

● A letter from Member of Parliament Fahad Al-Masoud asking that the Education, Culture, and Guidance Affairs Committee be tasked with researching the rules governing the accreditation of postsecondary education programs at private universities. ● A letter from MPs Fahd Al-Masoud and Badr Nashmi asking the Interior and Defense Affairs Committee to look into the barriers to the Ministry of Interior’s centers being established in Doha and Sulaibikhat. ● A letter from Fahd Al-Masoud and Badr Nashmi asking that the Public Facilities Committee look into the barriers to Kuwait Municipality centers being established in Sulaibikhat and Doha. ● A letter from MP Hamad Al-Elyan, the chairman of the Education, Culture, and Guidance Affairs Committee, asking for an extension of the deadline for the committee to turn in its report on the hardships faced by students in the south. ● A letter from MP Muhammad Hayef, the chairman of the Human Rights Committee, asking for a few-month extension of the committee’s investigation into the citizen Turki Al-Anzi’s alleged torture at the Military Intelligence Unit. ● A letter from Member Mubarak Al-Hajraf asking the Public Facilities Committee to schedule meetings with the relevant organizations to talk about the upkeep of the roads that are listed in the letter.  ● A letter from Member of Parliament Osama Al-Shaheen asking for the Digitalization, AI, and Cybersecurity Committee to be tasked with evaluating strategies for thwarting online banking fraud. ● A letter from MP Hamad Al-Matar asking the Ministry of Health to work with its counterpart in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to speed up the process of sending Palestinians injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza to Kuwait for treatment. ● A letter from the chairman of the Budgets and Final Accounts Committee asking public institutions to look into the State Audit Bureau’s (SAB) findings about the violations of turning public sector employees’ unused vacation days into cash. ● A letter from Member of Parliament Shuaib Shaaban asking the Health Affairs Committee to examine the reasons for the delay in Al-Mutlaa City’s health services delivery and the lack of a hospital or health center expansion in Jaber Al-Ahmad City. The Public Utilities Committee was asked to look into the reasons for the deterioration of the facilities designated for the Ministry of Social Affairs in Sulaibikhat in a letter from a group of MPs. The Public Funds Protection Committee was asked to look into how much Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) spent on media ads in a letter from a group of MPs. ● A letter from a delegation of Members of Parliament asking the Environmental Affairs, Food and Water Security Committee to look into the environmental harm caused by Al-Mutlaa’s poor sanitation. ● A letter from a number of Members of Parliament asking the Environmental Affairs, Food and Water Security Committee to look into the South Abdullah Al-Mubarak dumps’ environmental conditions. ● A letter from a group of Members of Parliament asking the Committee on Environmental Affairs, Food, and Water Security to look into the dearth of green spaces in different areas. A letter from a group of Members of Parliament asking the committee on environmental affairs, food security, and water security to look into the current environmental infractions in Asherij. ● A letter from a group of MPs asking the Environmental Affairs, Food and Water Security Committee to look into the harm that telecoms towers are causing to the environment. ● A letter requesting a four-month extension of time for the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee to deliver its report on the proposed law creating the Northern Economic Zone. ● A letter from a group of Members of Parliament asking the Priorities Committee to reserve two hours during one of the next legislative sessions for the State Audit Bureau’s (SAB) report on the evaluation of Al-Dhaman Hospitals Company’s entire portfolio. ● A letter from a group of Members of Parliament asking the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee and the Human Resources Committee combined committee to look into and debate legislation governing the nomination of officials as soon as possible.● A letter from Member of Parliament Saad Al-Asfour asking that the Values Enhancement and Combating Negative Phenomena Committee be tasked with investigating the causes of the rise in unlawful mortgage and gambling websites. ● A letter from MP Hamad Al-Medlej asking the Public Funds Protection Committee to look into the infractions discovered in the SAB headquarters’ maintenance contract.

The Amir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah thanked the Members of Parliament for their condolences on the passing of HH the Late Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, while the Assembly read a letter from him thanking them for their congratulations on his ascension to power. It also examined the Secretariat General’s report about the legislative committee meetings held between October 31, 2023, and December 31, 2023.

Additionally, the assembly was adjourned for thirty minutes by Speaker Ahmed Al-Saadoun, after which it reconvened to address parliamentary questions. Muhammad Al-Mutair, the Deputy Speaker, oversaw this portion of the meeting. The questions that MP Badr Al-Mullah sent to Minister of Oil and Deputy Prime Minister Emad Al-Atiqi are intended to uncover the truth regarding the contract that was inked with a business that has a reputation for having “deep infiltration” into government agencies. He inquired as to why a public tender was not used instead of signing the contract directly with such a corporation. According to him, the contract’s value grew by 50%, thus the Central Agency for Public Tenders (CAPT) was not consulted. He asked the minister to take quick action on the matter.

MP Adel Al-Damkhi claimed that the Kuwait Army is in disarray in response to questions he posed to Sheikh Fahd Yusuf Al-Sabah, the acting minister of interior, the minister of defense, and the deputy prime minister. He said that the legislative fact-finding committee’s report had identified several infractions, such as the Ministry of Defense’s Purchase Committee’s deceptive actions in relation to the agreements to acquire Eurofighter aircraft and Caracal helicopters. In order to take the necessary action, he urged the minister to thoroughly read the report on the armaments sale. He continued by saying that certain officers suffered consequences and humiliation as a result of their involvement in exposing the truth; some of them were even made to retire.

Regarding his inquiries regarding boosting the College of Medicine’s and health institutions’ capability to Adel Al-Adwani, Minister of Education, Higher Education, and Scientific Research, MP Abdulhadi Al-Ajmi provided feedback. He said that a scarcity of seats prevented some students who received a 99 percent grade from enrolling at Kuwait University. He also asked why Jordan and Egypt were suspending their medical science scholarships, given that the nation employs physicians with degrees from both universities. In order to consider other topics on the agenda, such as the government’s work program and the MPs’ response to the Amiri speech, the session was deferred till Wednesday.- AT


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