The parliamentary Financial and Economic Affairs Committee approved Sunday the government’s proposal to amend Article 16 of the Anti-Money Laundering Law in relation to the establishment of an independent investigations unit.
Committee Chairman MP Faisal al-Shaye confirmed it has been agreed that the unit’s budget should be attached to the Ministry of Finance because it is independent and under the control of the finance minister politically.
He affirmed the committee will submit its report to the National Assembly soon, in order to include the proposal in the agenda for the next session. Meanwhile, Health Committee Rapporteur MP Saadoun Hammad Al-Otaibi told journalists after the committee meeting on Sunday that they discussed allocations and regulations for overseas treatment in the presence of Health Minister Dr Ali Al-Obaidi. He said the committee will complete its discussion on this matter in its meeting slated for Thursday.
He explained the committee called for the amendment of some articles of the Overseas Treatment Regulation, particularly the temporary suspension of a patient’s treatment and return to the country especially since some diseases like cancer require long period of treatment. He said the proposed amendment shall allow a patient to request for temporary suspension of his treatment and then return to the country while waiting for his treatment schedule. He disclosed the committee also deliberated on other related issues such as the high air fare for applicants of oversees treatment, indicating Kuwait Airways Corporation offers the lowest price for the ministry.
He added the committee suggested two companions for each patient – one shall be given full allocation while the other will be given a ticket and leave from work. He clarified this applies to sick children less than 12 years old and have severe disabilities. He confirmed that the committee discussed with Al-Obaidi the need to establish specialized hospitals to reduce pressure on the Overseas Treatment Sector, indicating the committee told the minister that Jaber Hospital must have all the rare medical specializations and it should be exclusive for Kuwaitis as part of steps to reduce the number of patients undergoing treatment abroad.
He pointed out the allocation issue is beyond the jurisdiction of the Health Ministry as it falls under the Council of Ministers, asserting the committee will submit its recommendation to the National Assembly soon. Also commenting on the decision to reduce allocation for patients undergoing treatment abroad, Al-Obaidi urged the committee members to look into the internal regulations of the ministry. He said there are two sides of the overseas treatment issue – one is financial which is under the Cabinet and the other is technical which is under the Ministry of Health. He disclosed the Cabinet has formed a committee consisting of members from the ministries of Health, Defense, Interior and Oil to guarantee equality in overseas treatment procedures. He confirmed the committee approved the decision to reduce allocation for overseas treatment. On another issue, MP Hamdan Al- Azmi wonders why there is contradiction within the government regarding the budget deficit.
He asked, “How the government will convince citizens to rationalize expenditures if it continues to waste public money?” He cited as an example the wastage of public funds through the fireworks show which he described as provoking emotions of citizens, especially since millions of Kuwaiti dinars were wasted at a time the government is asking them to rationalize public spending. He argued the bad financial situation of Kuwait is not due to the oil price decline or current global economic situation as it is rather caused by botched government policies, stressing that rationalization will not solve the budget deficit since there is also the need to stop wastage of public money, diversify sources of income and strict oversight on State projects.
Moreover, Al-Azmi forwarded questions to State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah on the fireworks show. He wants to know the total cost and the company in charge of the event. In another development, MP Saud Al- Hareeji submitted questions to Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al- Subaih on the privatization of cooperative societies.
The lawmaker explained that the cooperative societies sector in Kuwait is unique and it plays a crucial role in serving the people, but some board members have been abusing their position to serve personal interests. He believes privatization is not the right way to develop cooperative societies, because it does the opposite – it ‘kills’ the cooperatives.
He asked if the ministry intends to privatize all cooperative societies, the legal basis for doing so, if it is in line with the economic reform vision, if the Cooperative Societies Union has been consulted in this regard, if the decision is based on the results of a feasibility study and other relevant information.
Source: Arab Times