Kuwaiti PM to face grilling over housing and graft

  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share
Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah.

Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah.

A Kuwaiti lawmaker has filed a request to question the prime minister in parliament over housing and graft, in a sign of renewed political discord in the major Gulf oil producer.

The move against Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah, a senior ruling family member, comes just two days after the opening of parliament, where officials have said tackling a shortage of government-funded housing is a priority.

A government poll has shown that housing is the most pressing issue for Kuwaitis who say they have to wait up to 20 years for a government-subsidised home. Campaigners have frequently linked the housing issue to corruption.

MPs and campaigners have said they will put pressure on the cabinet, which is headed by Sheikh Jaber. MP Riyadh al-Adsani submitted the request on Thursday, state news agency KUNA said.

The welfare system poses a dilemma for Kuwaiti officials, who are concerned that the country is spending money too fast. The International Monetary Fund has said Kuwait's expenditures will exceed oil income in 2017 if the spending bill keeps rising at the current rate.

Kuwait has one of the most open political systems in the Gulf Arab region with an elected 50-member parliament that has the power to block legislation and question ministers in sessions known as "grillings".

Tensions between parliament and the cabinet have slowed economic development in Kuwait, one of the richest countries in the world relative to its population size. Parliamentary elections held in July were the sixth in seven years.

Parliaments have been repeatedly dissolved over procedural disputes or for challenging the government in which members of the ruling family hold top posts. Grilling requests have led to dissolutions because ministers want to avoid questioning or a vote of no confidence that would prompt a resignation.

Under the government housing programme, Kuwaiti men can apply for a home after marriage and receive a loan for it which is paid off slowly. But the waiting list has grown to more than 100,000 and is expected to grow by thousands each year in a country where more than half of nationals are under 25.

Kuwaitis are used to a generous support system which also offers them free education and healthcare, as well as having access to subsidised petrol and electricity, like all of the country's 3.8 million residents. Foreigners make up around two thirds of the population.

However, Sheikh Jaber warned this week in an introduction to the government's programme thatKuwait's welfare state is unsustainable.

Almost all of Kuwait's revenues come from oil and like other wealthy Gulf Arab countries, it does not tax earnings. Spending programmes and the relatively high quality of life in Gulf Arab countries are often seen as having helped the region escape Arab Spring-style upheaval.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Saudi Arabia's Yemen gamble may define its regional role for years

Saudi Arabia's Yemen gamble may define its regional role for years

Success in Yemen would establish Riyadh as de facto leader of...

Events that moved the markets

Events that moved the markets

What, if anything, have we learnt from past crises that have...

A country on hold: Oman's next step?

A country on hold: Oman's next step?

The Gulf state has been relatively stable under the rule of one...

Most Discussed
  • 17
    Nakheel PR: The toughest job in Dubai?

    You forgot to mention the sewage pit between JLT and Jumeirah Park and the terrible landscaping in Jumeirah Park The chain link fencing they want to install... more

    Monday, 30 March 2015 9:05 AM - An Emaar Fan
  • 12
    Dubai Int'l T1 is too congested, says Indian airline boss

    Yes, T1 is overflowing, but Air India need to maintain its timing which is a big question mark most of the time. Plus quality of service, please have some... more

    Monday, 30 March 2015 4:13 PM - Shareen
  • 9
    Post traumatic stress?

    I once had a Emirates Post employee hang up on me when I asked her to repeat something. That said, the worst is my management company, Kingfield Management... more

    Sunday, 29 March 2015 6:07 PM - Sarah