Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - By B Iz­zak

KUWAIT: Can­di­dates stand­ing in the Nov 26 gen­eral elec­tion called on the gov­ern­ment to take nec­es­sary mea­sures to tackle the grow­ing bud­get deficit, but with­out un­der­min­ing the stan­dard of liv­ing of Kuwaiti cit­i­zens. The eco­nomic is­sue, es­pe­cially gov­ern­ment de­ci­sions and fu­ture plans to raise the prices of ser­vices and fuel, topped the agen­das of the can­di­dates, who warned the gov­ern­ment that touch­ing the in­come of cit­i­zens is a “red line” that must not be crossed.

For­mer MP Askar Al-Enezi, bid­ding for re-elec­tion, warned the gov­ern­ment against “tak­ing mea­sures that un­der­mine the in­come of Kuwaiti cit­i­zens be­cause this is a red line”, ad­ding that in the wake of the sharp drop in oil prices, “the gov­ern­ment should have al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions and treat­ments that ra­tio­nal­ize spend­ing and stop squan­der­ing of pub­lic funds”.

Enezi said that any gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion to raise prices or im­pose charges on cit­i­zens will be strongly con­fronted by the next Na­tional Assem­bly. Enezi was re­fer­ring to the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to raise petrol prices and re­ported plans to fur­ther re­duce pub­lic sub­si­dies and im­pose var­i­ous types of tax­a­tion in a bid to boost non-oil rev­enues to fi­nance the bud­get deficit.

For­mer MP Roud­han Al-Roud­han said the de­ci­sion to hike petrol prices was wrong and the gov­ern­ment should have cut spend­ing, start­ing from the top bu­reau­crats. For­mer Is­lamist MP Ha­mad Al-Matar said Kuwait is pass­ing through a highly del­i­cate pe­riod be­cause of to­tal de­pen­dence on oil as the only source of in­come, ad­ding that the coun­try needs com­pre­hen­sive re­forms.

Matar said the sharp de­cline in oil prices and the ris­ing cost of its pro­duc­tion as time goes by means that the coun­try has reached a crit­i­cal stage, which re­quires swift eco­nomic re­forms to safe­guard the in­ter­ests of the fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. He said that re­solv­ing the eco­nomic cri­sis can­not be made at the cost of cit­i­zens, es­pe­cially low-in­come peo­ple, but through halt­ing the se­vere squan­der­ing of pub­lic funds, val­ued at sev­eral bil­lion di­nars.

Matar called for work­ing out a timetable for di­ver­si­fy­ing sources of in­come and for re­duc­ing de­pen­dence on oil. He charged that ram­pant cor­rup­tion in var­i­ous parts of the gov­ern­ment only wors­ens the eco­nomic cri­sis, ad­ding that the next Assem­bly should be pre­pared to con­front cor­rup­tion.

Mean­while, the ad­min­is­tra­tive court yes­ter­day looked into sev­eral cases of can­di­dates who were barred by the elec­tion au­thor­i­ties to con­test the par­lia­men­tary polls. The court post­poned two cases for to­day and re­ferred two oth­ers to an­other court.

The court has al­ready ruled to al­low 15 can­di­dates to run in the polls, out of 47 hope­fuls barred by the elec­tion au­thor­i­ties either be­cause they had been pre­vi­ously handed ver­dicts by courts or for not com­plet­ing their nom­i­na­tion pa­pers.

Those re­in­stated in­clude for­mer MPs Safa Al-Hashem and Ab­dul­hameed Dashti, in ad­di­tion to Sheikh Malek Al-Hu­moud Al-Sabah, the only rul­ing fam­ily mem­ber in the race. The gov­ern­ment has al­ready chal­lenged th­ese rul­ings at the court of ap­peals. Such cases must be re­solved be­fore the elec­tion.

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