Kuwait MP asks to grill PM over housing crisis, graft

AFP , Thursday 31 Oct 2013

An opposition MP blamed the government for a sharp rise in land costs that made it almost impossible for a majority of Kuwaitis to own a house

A Kuwaiti lawmaker on Thursday asked to question the oil-rich Gulf state's prime minister, blaming him for a chronic housing crisis, rife corruption and a decline in public services.

The grilling is expected to be debated late November and could lead to a vote of no-confidence that, if approved, would result in the dismissal of Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah, who was appointed to the post just two years ago.

"I have submitted a request to grill the prime minister over the government's failure to resolve the housing crisis ... in addition to widespread corruption and deterioration of the country's situation," opposition MP Riyadh al-Adasani said after handing the 19-page request to parliament.

He said that as a result of the government's failed policies, over 106,000 Kuwaiti families -- or around 400,000 citizens out of 1.2 million -- are on the waiting list for government houses despite the country's mammoth wealth, estimated at over $400 billion.

He blamed the government for a sharp rise in land costs that made it almost impossible for a majority of Kuwaitis to own a house.

Adasani said the prime minister -- a senior member of the Al-Sabah ruling family -- was responsible for the deterioration of public services, the failure to implement a development plan and the extended delays plaguing key mega projects.

Since early 2006, the OPEC state has seen dozens of prime ministers and other cabinet members questioned, with many forced to resign ahead of no-confidence votes. The latest victim was former oil minister Hani Hussein, who quit in May ahead of a grilling.

The request to question the prime minister comes just two days after Kuwait's ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah opened parliament's new term by urging reforms and calling for cooperation between MPs and the government.

The current parliament was elected in July in Kuwait's second poll in eight months after the country's top court dissolved the previous parliament due to procedural flaws. It was the second house to be scrapped for the same reason in a year.

As a result of bitter political disputes dating back to 2006, parliament was dissolved by the emir four times and nullified by the court on two occasions, while a dozen cabinets were formed.

The emirate, which says it sits on 10 percent of global crude oil reserves, is pumping around 3.0 million barrels a day.

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