Call to halt loans, re­cruit­ment from states re­fus­ing re­turnees

2 deaths, 168 new virus cases • Re­port on all virus-re­lated con­tracts sought

Kuwait Times - - Front Page - By B Iz­zak

KUWAIT: MP Ab­dulka­rim AlKa­n­dari yes­ter­day called on the gov­ern­ment to or­der Kuwait Fund for Arab Eco­nomic and So­cial De­vel­op­ment to stop giv­ing loans to coun­tries that have re­fused to take back their work­ers who have been liv­ing il­le­gally in the coun­try. Kan­dari, who heads the Na­tional Assem­bly’s for­eign re­la­tions panel, said the gov­ern­ment should adopt a tougher pol­icy by also threat­en­ing to stop re­cruit­ing work­ers from these coun­tries. At least Egypt and In­dia have re­fused to al­low the re­turn of thou­sands of their work­ers liv­ing il­le­gally in Kuwait but par­doned by the Kuwaiti gov­ern­ment, which also will pay their air­fare.

The health min­istry yes­ter­day re­ported 168 new coro­n­avirus in­fec­tions in the last 24 hours, bring­ing the tally to 2,248 cases, while two deaths were re­ported. The to­tal num­bers of deaths have reached 13. Dur­ing a daily brief­ing, Health Min­istry Spokesper­son Dr Ab­dul­lah Al-Sanad said 50 pa­tients are in in­ten­sive care, 21 of them in crit­i­cal con­di­tion. Those cur­rently re­ceiv­ing treat­ment at hos­pi­tals have reached 1,792 pa­tients, he added. The new death cases are of two In­di­ans aged 75 and 57 - both were re­ceiv­ing treat­ment in in­ten­sive care units. Ear­lier yes­ter­day, Health Min­is­ter Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah an­nounced the re­cov­ery of 31 pa­tients, tak­ing to­tal re­cov­er­ies to 443.

The Assem­bly bud­gets com­mit­tee has asked the Au­dit Bureau to pre­pare a com­pre­hen­sive re­port on all ex­pen­di­tures made with re­la­tion to the coro­n­avirus, mem­ber of the panel MP Riyadh Al-Adasani said. He said the panel re­quested that the re­port should in­clude de­tails about every con­tract ap­proved by the bureau and the to­tal costs of the con­tracts, Adasani said.

It also asked for the bureau’s tech­ni­cal opin­ion if each con­tract is re­lated to the coro­n­avirus and it is ne­c­es­sary to carry out gov­ern­ment ac­tiv­i­ties amid a ma­jor shut­down of busi­nesses, or if some of the con­tracts could have been de­layed un­til af­ter

the coro­n­avirus. The com­mit­tee also asked the bureau to in­clude any other opin­ions per­ti­nent to the re­port, in ad­di­tion to its rec­om­men­da­tions.

The bud­gets com­mit­tee mean­while pointed out that the state bud­get deficit for the cur­rent 2020/2021 fiscal year which be­gan April 1 is ex­pected to soar to KD 20 bil­lion if spend­ing re­mains in­tact in light of the sharp drop in oil prices, more than twice the deficit pro­jected in the orig­i­nal bud­get pre­pared be­fore the coro­n­avirus out­break. The com­mit­tee how­ever in­formed the gov­ern­ment

that around KD 5 bil­lion in deficit could still be posted in the fiscal year if spend­ing is lim­ited only to pay­ing wages and re­lated ex­pen­di­tures.

Kuwait has cal­cu­lated oil rev­enues on the ba­sis of an oil price of $50 a bar­rel, a daily pro­duc­tion of 2.7 mil­lion bar­rels per day and a dol­lar ex­change rate of 305 fils to the dol­lar. But all these three vari­ables de­te­ri­o­rated dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. Oil is trad­ing at around $15 a bar­rel, Kuwait’s pro­duc­tion is un­der $2.2 mil­lion bpd and the dol­lar is now equal to 310 fils.

Mean­while, the Cen­tral Ten­ders Com­mit­tee has ap­proved con­tracts with two com­pa­nies worth KD 28 mil­lion to im­port 300 mil­lion face­masks amid me­dia re­ports that there is some short­age of masks. The com­mit­tee also ap­proved other con­tracts worth some KD 3 mil­lion to pur­chase med­i­cal equip­ment for the min­istry of health.

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