Assembly panels discuss bedoons, loans, GCC pact (Kuwait Times, 31/12/2012)

National Assembly committees had a busy day yesterday approving proposals to raise the housing loan and children’s allowance, and discussing the issue of bedoons and the Gulf security pact. In the meantime, opposition activists called on citizens to demonstrate again on Jan 6. The Assembly’s human rights and bedoons committee discussed in full the problem of around 110,000 bedoons (stateless people), and decided to divide them into three categories, rapporteur of the panel MP Taher Al-Failakawi said.

The first category are those who qualify for Kuwaiti citizenship, the second are those whose situation remains undecided and unknown and the third group are those who do not qualify for consideration for Kuwaiti citizenship. Failakawi said that the committee decided to work towards asking the government to speed up procedures of granting Kuwaiti citizenship to the first category so their issue is resolved in the shortest time possible. The committee also decided that the third section should be totally disqualified and not considered as stateless people while more work should be done on the second category to establish if they deserve to be naturalized, he said.

MP Hussein Al-Qallaf asked the prime minister about a statement by the head of the central committee for bedoons Saleh Al-Fadhalah that 40,000 bedoons qualify for citizenship. The government has maintained that only 34,000 bedoons qualify for consideration for Kuwaiti citizenship. The legal and legislative committee meanwhile held a marathon meeting yesterday in which it approved proposals to increase the housing loan for Kuwaitis from KD 70,000 to KD 100,000, and also to increase the monthly child allowance from KD 50 to KD 100 for a maximum of seven children, MP Yacoub Al-Sane said.

But the committee rejected another proposal calling to grant Kuwaiti housewives who are not working with a monthly salary to encourage Kuwaiti women to stay home to take care of their children, Sane said. The committee approved a draft law to set up a national fund for aiding small and medium size projects, he said. The panel also decided to file civil lawsuits against those who publicly ridicule the National Assembly.

The foreign relations committee discussed with Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah a number of issues including the outcome of the recently concluded Gulf summit, Kuwait’s relations with Iraq and Iran, the situation in Syria and the GCC security pact. Head of the committee MP Saleh Ashour said the committee did not receive a copy of the Gulf security pact but the minister informed the committee that a number of provisions in the pact were amended to be in line with the Kuwaiti constitution.

In another development, several MPs criticized Oil Minister Hani Hussein over what they claimed a lack of action regarding irregularities in promotions at Kuwait Oil Company. A number of the lawmakers have threatened to grill the minister if he does not interfere to rectify the situation. Hussein said yesterday that he has appointed a committee to review procedures taken by the company and to listen to any complaints from employees.

The opposition meanwhile decided yesterday to resume demonstrations after a stoppage of about one month. The Karamat Watan (Dignity of a Nation) account on the Twitter yesterday called on the Kuwaiti people to demonstrate on Jan 6 to press for dissolving the Assembly and scrapping the amendment to the electoral constituency law. The organizers of the new protest did not say where and what time the new rally will be held. The last demonstration was staged on Dec 8, a week after the elections were announced. The opposition boycotted the election in protest against the amendment of the electoral law.

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