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MPs sour on marriage course – Grilling on fees
January 27, 2016, 8:20 am
Verbal confrontation between MP Muhammad Tana (right), and Jamal Al-Omar (left) during Tuesday’s National Assembly meeting.

The Parliament on Tuesday rejected, in principle, a bill on mandatory pre-marriage course with only 12 out of 35 members voicing approval. This came after the Parliament discussed the report of the Women and Family Affairs Committee on the proposal to require couples planning to get married to complete the pre-marriage course.

During the discussion, members of the Parliament expressed different views on the bill. Minister of Justice Yacoub Al-Sane stressed that couples planning to get married should not be forced to complete the course.

He pointed out, “It is our obligation to educate the society so this course should be optional, not compulsory.” Al-Sane clarifi ed that they agreed on the bill, in principle, but the course should be optional. He asked, “If a person does not take the course and pushes through with the marriage, will his marriage be attested or not, like those who get married outside Kuwait?”

On the other hand, MP Saadoun Hammad asserted it is unfair and unacceptable to compel anybody to send his daughter to ‘training’ before getting married. He accused some of his colleagues of failure to look into the bill properly as it contradicts Kuwait’s custom and traditions. Meanwhile, Rapporteur of the Women and Family Affairs Committee MP Saleh Ashour explained that the rate of divorce in Kuwait has been increasing at an alarming rate.

He revealed the divorce rate reached three percent in certain months and 52.6 percent in some years. He said divorce has become prevalent in many Islamic countries like Malaysia whose footsteps should be followed in terms of addressing the issue, including courses aimed at educating both the husband and wife since the divorce rate decreased from 70 percent to 30 percent. “Unfortunately, many young people today decide to get married based on just admiration, a glance or a smile; not knowing they have to shoulder a number of responsibilities within the family – provide housing and expenses for the children and wife.

Nowadays, most families have no time to educate their children about marriage, so we suggested the premarriage course. The couples planning to get married will be required to attend the course but there will be no passing or failure mark,” he added. He revealed the committee had earlier invited representatives of the Justice Ministry and they assured that the course does not contravene the Constitution. He then wondered why the minister is voicing objection to the bill now, although he accepted it in the past.

Also, MP Hamoud Al-Hamdan demanded for approval of the bill in its first reading and to ask the Ministry of Awqaf to present its legal opinion on the proposed pre-marriage training course. MP Ahmed Lari argued the course is necessary due to the rising number of married couples filing for divorce for trivial reasons. MP Abdul Rahman Al-Jeeran said the Kuwaiti society changed after the discovery of oil; hence, the need to include a course on the family in the curricula of Kuwait University (KU) and Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET).

In another development, the Assembly unanimously approved the Commercial Agencies Bill in its first reading and returned it to the concerned committee for review. Minister of Commerce and Industry Yousef Al-Ali clarified the bill supports the Consumer Protection Law, as well as regulates relations between dealers in Kuwait and their business counterparts outside the country. He also emphasized the need to clarify the difference between monopoly and protecting commercial competition, as the bill is aligned with such directive, in the sense that it stipulates the ability of having more than one dealer of a certain product or service, similar to the current law.

MP Abdulhameed Dashti asserted the Assembly is not against big merchants and dealers in Kuwait but it will not approve any bill deemed harmful to the Kuwaiti public. Other MPs proposed several amendments to ensure protection of consumers and commercial competition, considering the bill was submitted to the Financial Affairs Committee on July 3, 2014.

Given that the bill has seen the first light towards approval and implementation, Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al- Ghanim stated the monopoly of commercial agencies in Kuwait has been broken since enforcement of the current law in 1965.

On another issue, the Parliament agreed to allocate two hours of the session slated for Feb 9 to discuss the proposal to lift subsidies in light of the current financial condition and low oil price. The finance minister said the government has assigned a consultant to make sure those who receive subsidy will not be harmed.

Talking about the financial surplus in the past five years, he affirmed the surplus went to the Future Generations Fund as shown in the annual report submitted to the Assembly during the closed door discussion on the financial situation of the State.

Moreover, MP Yousef Al-Zalzalah has threatened to submit a grilling motion against the education minister if the private school fees will increase. He said the owner of a private school told the parents that she owns the school so she will increase the fees as she wants and whoever cannot cope should leave, even though the school building belongs to the government.

The minister wanted to respond but the Speaker prevented him and told them to abide by the law, saying that if they want debate on this issue, then they must present a request in this regard.

Source: Arab Times

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