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MPs demand debate on scrapped mega tenders – Five investigation reports referred to Audit Bureau
February 11, 2015, 9:06 am

The National Assembly yesterday demanded a debate on mega tenders cancelled by the government, mainly the airport project, after MPs criticized the actions of the ministry of public works. The government however used its constitutional right and demanded that the debate be delayed until the next session, scheduled for March 10. The Assembly request was triggered by a recommendation by the public works ministry last week to the Central Tenders Committee to scrap a tender for the airport expansion project after bids far exceeded ministry estimates.

The ministry said that it had estimated the project to cost around KD 1 billion, but the lowest of four bids made came at around KD 1.4 billion. The ministry's request prompted angry reactions from the Assembly, which made its public utilities committee to recommend transferring the project from the ministry to the Amiri Diwan. But several MPs yesterday praised the ministry's move, saying it aimed at safeguarding public funds. The CTC is scheduled to meet ministry of public works officials today to take a decision on the tender.

During its busy schedule yesterday, the Assembly voted to refer five investigation reports to the Audit Bureau to complete the legal procedures for sending officials suspected of wrongdoings to the public prosecution. A number of other reports were sent to the government to implement its recommendations, while a report on smuggling diesel was sent back to the public funds protection committee for further investigations. Some of those investigations have been with the Assembly for several years and include allegations of high-profile wrongdoings and embezzlement.

Commenting on the investigations, MP Adnan Abdulsamad said the reports show a battle between vested interests and national interests. He said that it is difficult to debate 10 investigation reports in one session. Abdulsamad said that recommendations to refer suspected officials to the public prosecution are not enough because they do not specify which officials are responsible for the violations and in most cases are eventually acquitted in court.

MP Abdulrahman Al-Jeeran said it is unfortunate that "nothing will be achieved from these investigation reports because influential people benefiting from the violations are within the National Assembly". Other MPs spoke about specific cases of alleged profiting and conspiracies in which former and current members of parliament were involved. The investigation reports, which the Assembly started debating in its last session, include probes on the Al-Zour North power plant, Jaber Al-Ahmad Stadium, Subbiya Causeway, the Russian loan case and others.

In another development, the Assembly yesterday decided to start debating the five-year development plan today along with the development plan for 2015/2016. The development plan envisages spending of around KD 34 billion on development projects over the next five fiscal years starting from 2015/2016, which begins April 1. The funds initially earmarked totaled KD 45.5 billion, but around KD 11.5 billion was taken off, because it was allocated for projects that are scheduled to be completed after 2020.

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