Assembly takes decisions to push stalled mega projects

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The National Assembly on Tuesday took a series of decisions to form committees and launch studies on ways to push forward stalled mega projects, including the North Economic Zone and the development of islands. The Assembly approved a proposal by head of the parliamentary committee for mega and entertainment projects and development of islands MP Khaled Al-Otaibi requesting forming a joint panel with the Assembly’s financial committee to study a bill calling to establish the North Economic Zone, which had been proposed many years ago.

The Assembly also approved a second proposal from MP Otaibi asking to assign the mega projects committee to assess the role of concerned government bodies towards key mega projects. The committee will also study the vision of the government and its measures toward implementing the islands’ development project, in addition to key entertainment projects. The main aim of the two proposals is to push for the implementation of major projects that require tens of billions of dinars in investments.

The Assembly also approved a proposal from a group of lawmakers calling on the parliamentary legal and legislative committee to give priority to studying and approving a draft law on conflicts of interest. Head of the panel MP Muhannad Al-Sayer said the committee will start reviewing the bill on Sunday and invited all lawmakers to attend. The Assembly also approved a proposal by the head of the manpower resources committee MP Mohammad Al-Huwailah requesting that the committee be assigned to follow up the government’s employment policies and its policy on replacing expat manpower in the government with Kuwaiti citizens.

MPs also approved a request by MP Mubarak Al-Hajraf calling to assign the financial and economic affairs panel to study money laundering and terrorism funding. The Assembly also voted to lift the immunity of MP Obaid Al-Wasmi so a court can try him in a case filed by the former minister of Amiri Diwan. But MPs refused to lift the immunity of MP Hamed Al-Bathali to face a court case for allegedly taking part in outlawed tribal primary elections.

Meanwhile, the public prosecutor said on Tuesday he will set free MP Marzouq Al-Khalifa and about 28 of his Shemmari tribesmen who were last month handed two-year jail terms for taking part in tribal primaries. Khalifa ran in the election from jail and retained his seat in the fourth constituency in the September polls. The lawmaker and other prisoners will be subjected to a number of restrictions, mainly on the freedom of movement, by wearing electronic bracelets.

Lawmakers continued to debate the Amiri address delivered at the new Assembly’s opening session.  MP Saad Al-Khanfour claimed that although the country is experiencing a new era and fighting corruption, influential people have become bigger than the government. He said resolving the decades-old problem of bedoons or stateless people is easy by granting citizenship to those who deserve it and asking the rest to produce their original identification papers and settle their issues.

MP Hamdan Al-Azemi criticized the government for underperforming, saying Qatar is organizing the World Cup and Saudi Arabia is planning to go to space, while Kuwait does not even have an entertainment city.  The Assembly continues to debate the Amiri address on Wednesday.

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