Gulf | Kuwait

Kuwaiti minister under fire for alleged nepotism

Supporters claim criticism linked to determination to fight trafficking in visas

  • By Habib Toumi Bureau Chief
  • Published: 13:02 August 13, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manama: A Kuwaiti minister has come under stern criticism for reportedly appointing relatives, including her sister, to key positions in the ministry.

Reports in the capital Kuwait City claimed that Dhikra Al Rasheed, the minister of social affairs and labour, had abused her powers days after she was re-appointed to the position by naming her sister as adviser within the ministry outside her regular work schedule. Other nominations were also seen as an abusive step by the minister.

“Corruption within the administrative sector in the public sector must be tackled, particularly when nominations have a sectarian or tribal or family dimension,” MP Rakan Al Nisf said.

Lawmaker Faisal Al Dowsan said that he would submit a motion to bar ministers from appointing relatives to any leading position within the public sector.

“I expect the government to welcome the motion as a step forward to consolidate reforms and resist corruption as stated by the Prime Minister Shaikh Jaber Al Mubarak.”

According to the lawmaker, who was among the 50 MPs elected in the parliamentary elections held on July 27, his motion over leading positions would rule out nepotism and political scheming.

“It will definitely achieve justice and equal opportunities. If the government does not back the motion, then we should not believe claims that it is seeking reforms for the sake of Kuwait,” he said in remarks published by local daily Alem Al Youm on Monday.

MP Riyadh Al Adasani said that his plan to quiz the minister were still valid, saying that he had the intention to submit it when he was a lawmaker in the 2012 parliament dissolved by the court.

“There are people who receive two salaries because they are the relatives of the minister whereas there are other people who cannot secure a single job,” he said. “The government should address this issue before we start preparing to quiz ministers,” he said.

However, several Kuwaitis charged that the onslaught on Dhikra, one of two women given a ministerial portfolio in the new-look government formed following the parliamentary elections, was not motivated by a keen interest in administrative reforms but by a drive to discredit her after she pledged publicly to fight traffickers in residence visas and work permits relentlessly. The business, closely linked to the controversial sponsorship concept, has been highly lucrative for those operating outside the law.

“Such appointments if the reports are genuine are not something new in Kuwait,” readers posted on local social networks. “They are part of the social structure that has seen several ministers or senior officials appoint relatives who by the way may as well be highly competent and richly deserve the position,” they said.

The government and the opposition had locked horns for months over the merit of the parliamentary elections following the amendment of the controversial 2006 electoral law.

The opposition has argued that the changes were intended to secure the election of a rubber-stamp parliament and that they should have been introduced by the parliament. However, the government has argued that slashing the number of candidates a voter could elect from four to one was the international standard that should be adopted by Kuwait. It attributed the Emiri decree amending the law to the inability to hold a regular parliamentary meeting following a decision by the opposition not to respond to the initiative by the Speaker to convene a session in the summer of 2012.

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