Kuwait lawmakers to quiz oil minister

Manama: Tensions between the Kuwaiti parliament and government came to the fore again after two lawmakers filed a motion to quiz the oil minister.

Besides, the motion, submitted by MPs Omar Al Tabtabai and Abdul Wahab Al Babteen, with 10 allegations against Oil Minister Bakheet Al Rasheedi included a threat to quiz Prime Minister Shaikh Jaber Al Mubarak.

Observers in Kuwait are almost certain that other grilling motions will follow.

Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al Ganem confirmed the motion to grill Al Rasheedi and said it would be reviewed at the next session, and that the grilling of the minister would be on May 1 as per the regulations that stipulate a 14-day period.

Al Tabtabai raised the stakes by insisting he had four ‘Nos’: No to deleting any word from the grilling; no to holding it behind closed doors; no to referring the motion to the Constitutional Court; and no to moving the motion to the legislative committee, Kuwaiti daily Al Rai reported on Tuesday.

He warned if any of his four demands was not met, he would hold the prime minister responsible.

Al Tabtabai said his decision to quiz the minister was taken after he had to wait for three months to receive answers to his questions from the ministry, and that the answers were not exhaustive.

Charges cited in the motion included massive financial and administrative irregularities, squandering of funds, useless training sessions, huge payouts for expatriates, failing to collect public funds, and marginalising and weakening legal groups within the oil companies.

Al Tabtabai claimed he had evidence about huge amounts of money being wasted, ecological catastrophes and abuses of the law, and he intended to confront the minister about them.

In his statement, MP Al Babteen said it would not be acceptable if the minister decided to resign to avoid being grilled. “You should ask those who pushed you into this situation why they did it,” he said in his statement to Al Rasheedi.

Under bylaws, a grilling motion is shelved if the minister to be quizzed quits his post.

However, the oil minister reacted quickly to news of the motion and said he was ready for the quizzing. He added that he fully supported the rights of lawmakers to ask their questions.

“Quizzing is a constitutional right for lawmakers and we are the first to support it. The oil sector is committed to legal and organisational measures and we deal with any violation or transgression according to the law and regulations. Our work is purely technical and there are several control and audit agencies. If there are violations, we will address them and refer them to the competent authorities,” he said.


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