‘Cara­cal’ clar­i­fied

Arab Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Saeed Mah­moud Saleh Agen­cies

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 13: Kuwait’s Min­istry of De­fense has is­sued a clar­i­fi­ca­tion on in­quiries made by sev­eral law­mak­ers about the ex­is­tence of a tech­ni­cal mal­func­tion in Cara­cal air­craft, specif­i­cally in re­la­tion to two air­crafts, ahead of their de­liv­ery by the man­u­fac­turer.

The min­istry has made the de­ci­sion to form a spe­cialised tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee tasked with ex­am­in­ing rea­sons that pre­vented the re­ceipt of the air­craft and ad­dress­ing the root causes be­hind this in order to pre­vent a re­peat of the mat­ter.

The move was made out of com­plete con­cern for the safety of air force pi­lots and em­ploy­ees, in preser­va­tion of pub­lic funds, and in re­sponse to the right­ful state­ments and queries posed by the law­mak­ers, said the min­istry in a state­ment.

Fur­ther­more, the min­istry con­firmed the “sus­pen­sion of its re­ceipt of these air­craft at the present time, pend­ing the con­clu­sion of the com­mit­tee’s in­spec­tion of the prob­lem and the re­ceipt of the man­u­fac­turer’s report on the mal­func­tion suf­fered by some of the air­crafts.”

The min­istry will then take the “ap­pro­pri­ate de­ci­sion about the air­crafts’ for­mal de­liv­ery by the man­u­fac­turer, in light of pos­i­tive re­sults in this re­gard, with full as­sur­ances re­ceived that no tech­ni­cal mal­func­tion would oc­cur in the fu­ture.”

Deputy Speaker of the Na­tional As­sem­bly Essa Ahmed Al-Kan­dari has re­sponded to ru­mors about his al­leged in­volve­ment in the Air­bus bribery is­sue which sur­faced af­ter Bri­tish daily, The Guardian, pub­lished a report on court ver­dicts against Air­bus.

In a press state­ment, Al-Kan­dari ex­plained he had no in­ten­tion to comment on the is­sue but some­body men­tioned his name and tried to in­volve him in the is­sue, ac­cus­ing him of cor­rup­tion as the deal be­tween Kuwait Airways Cor­po­ra­tion (KAC) and Air­bus was fi­nal­ized dur­ing his term as Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter.

He dis­closed that he read the court ver­dicts con­vict­ing Air­bus and of­fi­cials from five coun­tries of bribery. He pointed out these five coun­tries do not in­clude Kuwait; stress­ing no Kuwaiti ci­ti­zen, se­nior of­fi­cial, pub­lic in­sti­tu­tion or com­pany were men­tioned in the ver­dict.

Nev­er­the­less, he de­cided to clar­ify the is­sue through a chrono­log­i­cal pre­sen­ta­tion about the deal, sup­ported by of­fi­cial doc­u­ments. He said the deal started on March 11, 2013, while he as­sumed the min­is­ter of com­mu­ni­ca­tions post in Au­gust 2013. He showed a let­ter dated March 11, 2013, that for­mer KAC Board Chair­man Sami Al-Nesf ad­dressed to Manag­ing Di­rec­tor of Kuwait In­vest­ment Au­thor­ity (KIA) Bader Al-Sa’ad; in­form­ing the lat­ter that KAC has started re­ceiv­ing of­fers from air­craft com­pa­nies. Al-Sa’ad re­sponded the next day, say­ing that pur­chas­ing and leas­ing air­craft is part of the job of KAC as per Law No. 22/2012 while KIA rep­re­sents the Gen­eral As­sem­bly.

Al-Kan­dari showed the min­utes of the meet­ing of the Pur­chase Com­mit­tee on May 7, 2013; dur­ing which the com­mit­tee unan­i­mously ap­proved the offer of Air­bus in­clud­ing the le­gal, tech­ni­cal and fi­nan­cial as­pects. He said the KAC Board of Direc­tors met on May 8, 2013, to en­dorse the com­mit­tee’s de­ci­sion. On May 13, 2013; the board chair­man of KAC sent a let­ter to the then state min­is­ter for hous­ing af­fairs and min­is­ter of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, in­form­ing him that KAC ap­proved the offer of Air­bus for the pur­chase of 25 air­planes. The let­ter in­cluded de­tails of the deal such as the spec­i­fi­ca­tions and prices of the air­planes, he added.

He as­serted all the above­men­tioned pro­ce­dures were taken be­fore he took charge of the min­istry, in­di­cat­ing he re­ceived a let­ter from Al-Nesf on Nov 14, 2013, stat­ing that the con­tract will be signed within a few days. He said the afore­men­tioned doc­u­ments were at­tached to the let­ter. “My role started when I sent a let­ter to AlNesf in­struct­ing him to take the nec­es­sary le­gal and tech­ni­cal pro­ce­dures, in ad­di­tion to ob­tain­ing writ­ten ap­proval from KIA,” he re­vealed.

He added that he for­warded a let­ter to then State Au­dit Bureau (SAB) Di­rec­tor Ab­du­laziz Al-Adas­sani, ask­ing him to as­sign fi­nan­cial con­trollers to follow up the deal. He sent a copy of the let­ter to the KAC board chair­man for the lat­ter to be aware that the deal would be su­per­vised and mon­i­tored by SAB.

Mean­while, MP Dr Adel Al-Damkhi pointed out in a press state­ment that hints on re­sort­ing to grilling is in the in­ter­est of the pub­lic as the aim is to call the at­ten­tion of the con­cerned min­is­ter to ad­dress short­com­ings.

He thanked the Min­istry of De­fense for its quick re­sponse to his state­ment about the Cara­cal he­li­copters deal on Wednesday. He added the min­istry later is­sued a state­ment on its in­ten­tion to sus­pend re­ceiv­ing the other he­li­copters and then form a com­mit­tee to con­duct in­ves­ti­ga­tions on the let­ter rec­om­mend­ing con­tin­u­a­tion of re­ceiv­ing the he­li­copters de­spite the tech­ni­cal er­rors found ear­lier, as­sert­ing there is no need to wait for the com­pany to re­lease its tech­ni­cal report.

He said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tee should in­clude in its report the opin­ions of Kuwaiti pi­lots, who flew the air­craft, on the tech­ni­cal er­rors.

He also asked about the pro­ce­dures taken by the Min­istry of De­fense af­ter dis­cov­er­ing the er­rors, names and spe­cial­iza­tions of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion panel mem­bers, and if the ship­ping of the air­craft is cov­ered by in­surance.

In an­other de­vel­op­ment, MP Ali AlDaqbasi urged Kuwaiti re­tirees to at­tend the ses­sion slated for Feb 18, 2020, as the As­sem­bly will dis­cuss and vote on bills about re­tirees’ loans and so­cial se­cu­rity. He said their pres­ence is very important as part of pub­lic mon­i­tor­ing, while clar­i­fy­ing that it is pos­si­ble to ap­prove these bills even if the gov­ern­ment has a dif­fer­ent point of view.

Also, Rap­por­teur of Health Af­fairs Com­mit­tee MP Sa’adoun Ham­mad dis­closed the com­mit­tee on Thurs­day con­tin­ued its dis­cus­sion on the causes of death of Ab­du­laziz Al-Rashedi – a child, Hanan Al-Ad­wani and Nawal Al-Kan­dari due to sus­pi­cions of med­i­cal er­rors.

He con­firmed the child’s fa­ther, Min­is­ter of Health Dr Bas­sel Al-Sabah and se­nior min­istry of­fi­cials at­tended the meet­ing. He said it has been proven that au­topsy was con­ducted on the child, but the min­istry was not aware as it did not carry out the task.

He added the com­mit­tee will in­vite the min­is­ter and other con­cerned min­istry of­fi­cials to its up­com­ing meet­ings to lis­ten to the state­ments of the rel­a­tives of AlAd­wani and Al-Kan­dari, af­ter which the com­mit­tee will sub­mit its report on these three cases.

Talk­ing about an­other is­sue, Ham­mad said the grace pe­riod given to the com­mit­tee to dis­cuss the haz­ardous ef­fects of us­ing 5G In­ter­net has ended, so they re­quested for three months ex­ten­sion con­sid­er­ing the is­sue has many as­pects such as the tech­ni­cal side.

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