The National Assembly, in its ordinary session Tuesday, discussed the interpellation motion that MPs Mubarak Al-Hajraf and Al-Humaidi Al-Subai’e submitted against Minister of Commerce and Industry and State Minister for Services Khaled Nasser Al-Roudhan. The Assembly tackled the interpellation after newly elected MPs Abdullah Al-Kandari and Bader Al-Mulla were sworn into office.
The discussion concluded with 10 MPs submitting a no-confidence motion against Al-Roudhan; including Al-Subai’e, Al-Hajraf, Thamer Al-Suwait, Abdulkarim Al-Kandari, Khaled Al-Otaibi, Mohammad Al-Mutair, Faraaj Al-Arbeed, Shuaib Al-Muwaizri, Saleh Ashour and Abdullah Al-Enezi. Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim explained the Assembly will vote on the no-confidence motion seven days after submission; hence, a special session will be held on March 27, 2019. Pursuant to Article 102 of the Constitution and Article 144 of the bylaw, a no-confidence motion should be presented by 10 MPs and voting on the motion should be done seven days after submission. Majority of the lawmakers should vote in favor of the motion in order to withdraw confidence on the concerned minister, while the ministers do not participate in the voting process.
During discussion of the interpellation motion, Al-Hajraf and Al-Subai’e pointed out that numerous issues surfaced due to poor supervision of the ministry; such as the real estate scams which have victimized more than 11,000 citizens; factories dumping waste into Kuwait Bay and irregularities at the National fund for Small and Medium Enterprises. They cited as an example the minister’s approval of fund amounting to KD 495,000 granted to a salon for women.
The State Audit Bureau (SAB) uncovered “blatant squandering and embezzlement of public funds,” Al- Subai’e noted. Although he thinks there are constitutional violations in the articles of the interpellation motion, the minister stood on the podium and responded to the questions in a bid to cooperate with the legislature and to work towards reform. For those who have fallen victims to real estate scams, the minister affirmed that he stood by them in efforts to hold the scammers accountable.
He said more than 90 percent of these cases were recorded before he assumed office and the number of such cases would have increased if the ministry did nothing during his brief tenure. He revealed that 687 out of the 976 reported cases were referred to the Public Prosecution, 212 were set aside and the remaining 77 are currently under investigation. He confirmed that efforts did not stop there, as the licenses of real estate companies involved in these cases were suspended.
Four months after his appointment as minister, a decree was issued to review and evaluate real estate marketing policies. This resulted in the recommendation and implementation of several tough regulations; thereby, limiting the number of real estate exhibitions and participating companies, he added.
On recovering money from the scammers, the minister pointed out this necessitates the issuance of a court order. The minister also asserted that the information disclosed by the two MPs is groundless, indicating this type of interpellation does nothing but weaken people’s trust in the democratic system. On the National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises, the minister revealed that within two years of his tenure, the number of approved projects increased by 330 percent including about 1,060 startups; most of which are commercial in addition to services, industries, restaurants, cafés and agriculture. He confirmed that he has been working towards a broad vision on reform. With the help of honest young adults under his umbrella, tangible progress was made possible.
With the vision of transforming Kuwait into a financial hub, Kuwait now ranks 133rd in global market indices – several notches up from 173rd, he asserted. The two MPs expressed dissatisfaction over the minister’s response, saying he did not address the issues they raised such as the 11 project owners financed by the National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises twice and his intervention in approving project financing.
The minister responded stressing he is more than willing to meet the concerned parliamentary committees to discuss issues and receive their recommendations. Furthermore, the Assembly gave more time for the parliamentary Public Utilities Committee to submit its report on the remarkable increase of rental fees at Al- Mubarakiya Market. The Assembly also instructed the Human Rights Committee to refer all files, cases and legislative proposals regarding children and women rights to the concerned committee while taking into consideration the formation of a committee for these matters.
Additionally, in response to the request of Human Development Affairs Committee Chairman MP Khaleel Al-Saleh; the Assembly asked the committee to review the steps taken by the government in a bid to intensify its efforts in employing fresh petroleum engineering graduates and regulate the educational output to match the job market demand