Tuesday/ 6 June 2012
Syria, Gulf union high on agenda in GCC ministerial talks today
• Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid will today take part in the GCC foreign ministers’ meeting in Jeddah which will discuss the developments in Syria and the plan to develop the GCC into a union. A report on the proposal to form a Gulf union will figure high on the agenda of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers’ meeting on Tuesday, the GCC secretary-general has said. The meeting, the first to be held since last month’s GCC consultative summit in Riyadh, will also review reports on strategic issues and the negotiations between the GCC states and economic blocs, Abdul Lateef Al Zayani said. The latest regional, Arab and international developments will also be discussed by the ministers at the Red Coast resort of Jeddah, he said. “This meeting holds a special significance because it will be the first to be held following the advisory summit and its recommendations,” Al Zayani said in a statement yesterday. It will also convene at a time of rapid regional and international developments and fast-paced events.” The GCC states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been looking into a proposal by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud to turn their alliance set up in 1981 into a union. “I ask today that we move from a phase of cooperation to a phase of union within a single entity,” the Saudi monarch told fellow GCC leaders at the opening of the annual GCC summit in Riyadh in December. “You must realize that our security and stability are threatened and we need to live up to our responsibilities. Our summit opens in the shadow of challenges that require vigilance and a united stance,” he said. An adhoc commission of representatives from each of the six member states was formed to look into the proposal and submit recommendations. Reports emerged in April and May about Bahrain and Saudi Arabia agreeing to move ahead with the union, even if it meant setting an initial core of two or three states. However, the GCC leaders at the advisory summit said the union issue would be postponed to allow for further study by the commission to present recommendations at an extraordinary summit. No date for the summit was mentioned, but speculations were particularly rife in Bahrain that it would be held before the next regular summit scheduled for December in Manama. (Al-Seyassah)
Prime Minister will invite majority to participate in the cabinet with 3 ministers
• Rumors about returning the three laws widened to include rumors that ministers of justice and education waving their resignations if the laws were returned. Al-Anba newspaper also said ministers of housing affairs and social affairs are also thinking of leaving their ministerial posts. Al-Wasat newspaper reports current negotiations with the bloc of majority in which 3 persons close to the Bloc would be included in a new cabinet reshuffle. However, the newspaper says the majority want 6 seats in the cabinet, down from 9 seats they were requesting last February. The sources said giving 3 portfolios to the majority is seen as a cure for the bad relations between the two authorities, especially that the majority is convinced with the importance of a cabinet reshuffle so ministers causing tension would leave the cabinet. The sources said this proposal will be discussed during the meeting between the Prime Minister and the Speaker today. (Al-Wasat, Al-Anba)
MP Osama Al-Munawer announces intention to grill oil minister over “serious violations
• MP Osama Al-Munawer Munawer announced on Monday that he plans to file to grill Oil Minister Hani Hussein over allegations of “serious violations”. The lawmaker said he will first show the grilling to the majority bloc. Al-Munawer said he intends to file a grilling request against Minister of Oil Hani Hussein on suspicious transactions and possible crimes on public funds. He forwarded a number of questions to the Oil Minister on Equate Petrochemical Company and K-Dow. He mentioned that he will discuss the grilling with members of the majority bloc during a meeting held within this week or next week to receive their support for his move. (Al-Jreeda)
Government says grilling against social minister breaches constitution
• The government and the National Assembly appeared yesterday headed for a showdown after the Cabinet said that a grilling filed against Minister of Social Affairs and Labour Ahmad Al-Rujaib by opposition MP Saifi Al-Saifi breached the constitution and the internal charter of the Assembly. The government statement, issued following the weekly Cabinet meeting, did not say what actions it plans to take regarding the grilling which is listed on the Assembly agenda today. The government may seek to refer the grilling either to the constitutional court or to the Assembly’s legal and legislative committee to decide if it is in line with the constitution. Rijaib, appointed in the Cabinet just in February, faces a second grilling by MP Riyad Al-Adasani which was filed yesterday. Both grillings charge wide-ranging financial and administrative irregularities. The second grilling is not expected to come up on the session agenda today and likely to be listed for the June 19 session. (All Newspapers)
Cabinet did not discuss returning laws
• All newspapers are reporting that the Council of Ministers yesterday decided to return two of three laws previously passed by the National Assembly. The newspapers say the Council of Ministers decided to return the law of insulting Prophet Mohammad and the law of the small and medium size projects and kept the law of the new university for applied sciences. However, Al-Anba newspaper, and as it is mentioned in the weekly cabinet statement, reports that the Council of Ministers meeting yesterday did not discuss the file of the three laws. Sources told Al-Anba that the information circulated recently lack accuracy and understanding or the constitution. The sources said the government have not yet sent a memo to the Amir to return the laws. The sources said returning the laws is an absolute right for the Amir, according to articles 65 and 66 of the constitution. The sources said the approval of some ministers for the laws does not oblige the Amir to approve the laws.In related news, constitutional sources said only the law of insulting the Prophet will be returned because of some constitutional suspicions related to it. The sources said the return of the law will be accompanied by justification. The sources added that the laws of the new university and the small and medium size projects include some points that the government has reservations on but there could be understanding and coordination about them. (Al-Anba)
Shiite Kuwaiti sentenced to 10 years for blasphemy
• A Kuwaiti man was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday after he was convicted of endangering state security by insulting the Prophet Mohammad and the Sunni Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on social media. Shiite Muslim Hamad Al-Naqi pleaded innocent at the start of the trial last month, saying he did not post the messages and that his Twitter account had been hacked. The written verdict, delivered by Judge Hisham Abdullah, found Al-Naqi guilty of all charges, a court secretary told Reuters. The sentence was the maximum that 26-year-old Al-Naqi could have received, his lawyer Khaled Al-Shatti said. The judge found him guilty of insulting the Prophet, the Prophet’s wife and companions, mocking Islam, provoking sectarian tensions, insulting the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and misusing his mobile phone to spread the comments. “The prison sentence is long but we have the chance to appeal,” Al-Shatti said. Under Kuwaiti law, the defense can file an appeal within 20 days of the verdict and jail sentences have been reduced in the past for similar convictions. (All Newspapers)
Over 60 companies express interest in Kuwait Metro
• The technical body charged with considering development projects and initiatives said, Monday, that it had received over 60 letters from specialized local, regional, and international companies expressing interest to invest in the project for the control systems of the first phase of Kuwait Metro, in a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) framework virtue of law 7/2008. A statement by the technical team to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) said the government aims to create a fully integrated public transport network that offers flexibility of movement for the capital city and its suburbs, as part of the “Kuwait 2035″ blueprint. The network is to incorporate the latest technology. The control systems project includes development and maintenance of heavy-maintenance stations, as well as control system and carts components. This is the first step of the first phase of the metro project, and is to be followed by infrastructure tenders and operator tenders. Preparations are ongoing, the statement said, for pre-qualifications for the control systems company project, and the tender would be announced in all transparency and equal investment opportunity at a latter point in time. (All Newspapers-KUNA)
IMF; 95% of Kuwait's revenues come from oil
• The International Monetary fund (IMF) said in a recent report titled "Fiscal Frameworks for Resource Rich Developing Countries" that Kuwait topped the world countries in oil dependency, where the oil revenues formed 95% of the state's total revenues during the past five years, followed by Equatorial Guinea t 91%, Brunei Darussalam 90%, Libya 89%, Oman 83%, Bahrain 82%, Congo 82%, Saudi Arabia 79%, UAE 76% and Qatar 58%. The IMF compared between the natural resources dependent countries such as oil, gas, gold, cupper, diamond and raw materials. But, the oil and gas-rich countries came on the top of the classification. On the other hand, the IMF pointed out the life time (R/P ration) of oil and gas in Kuwait estimated at 114.2 years compared with 226.7 years in Venezuela, 150 years in Iraq, 149.6 years in Turkmenistan, 143.7 years in Qatar, 134.9 years in Iran, 100 years in UAE, 79.8 years in Libya and 75.5 years in Saudi Arabia. In a simple analysis to the scary numbers mentioned by IMF, it seems that the plans of the Kuwaiti governments to diversify income resources achieved complete failure, because the state budget's oil dependency still the highest in the world, which forms serious risks due to the fluctuation nature of oil prices. Since the beginning of April, oil prices dropped by 20% from US$ 120 pb to reach US$ 97 pb last Friday, which means that Kuwait is losing KD 20 million everyday (drop from US$ 120 to US$ 97 pb) and if the prices continue to fall, Kuwait will lose KD 7.3 billion this fiscal year assuming that the production rate is around 3 mbpd at average price of US$ 120 pb. However, the IMF numbers pointed to the high risks in the state budget because of dependent on oil revenues, especially with the endless extended increase in salaries, wages, subsidy and allowances. According to IMF, salaries of civilians and military staff in addition to goods' subsidy reached KD 11.5 billion per year, without mentioning the recent salary increase which will add KD 1 billion to increase the total spending on salaries, wages and subsidy to KID 12.5 billion. In other words, spending on this chapter jumped by 540% during the past 10 years. (Al-Qabas)
• Major powers must ensure that the peace plan for Syria is implemented by both sides, but for now international mediator Kofi Annan does not favor expanding the ceasefire monitoring mission, his spokesman said on Monday.
• Syrian rebel spokesman says they are no longer committed to Annan’s ceasefire. He has called for a UN-backed “peace enforcement mission” or a no-fly zone to replace the monitoring mission, demands the UN chief General Ban Ki-moon has rejected. Ban sayid Annan’s six-point peace plan remains “central” to resolving the crisis, he told the agency on the sidelines of an Islamic Development Bank meeting in Jeddah.
• Saudi Arabia expressed deep concern over the worsening security situation in Syria and called for an immediate UN Security Council intervention to stop the bloodbath, violence and crimes in the war-torn country.
• At the start of a week-long meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors in Vienna, Yukiya Amano “invited” Iran to sign an agreement to give the agency access to sites, documents and people related to its nuclear programme. He urged Iran yesterday to sign a deal allowing greater clarity on its disputed nuclear drive and announced that new talks with Tehran would be held this week.
• Egyptian activists who spearheaded the revolt that toppled president Hosni Mubarak have called for mass demonstrations on Tuesday to protest against verdicts handed down in the ex-strongman’s murder trial. The ruling sparked nationwide outrage, with protesters taking to the streets in fury that no one had been found directly guilty of killing the protesters.
• North Korea’s military Monday threatened rocket attacks on the Seoul offices of South Korean media outlets for their critical coverage of a mass children’s event in Pyongyang.