February 9, 2021 government

Govt panel, businesses discuss easing closure, compensation


KUWAIT: Representatives of small businesses called on the ministerial emergency committee to ease closures of businesses and compensate small and medium businesspeople who have incurred heavy losses because of the government shutdowns of commercial activities to stem the rise in coronavirus cases. Some of the representatives said the committee could propose reopening shops, health clubs and salons by allowing only less than half of the staff to attend.

The representatives called on the government to provide financial compensation to businesses harmed by the closures last year, and which are expecting further losses this year. There has been no word from the committee on the outcome of the meeting which took place late Sunday, but the authorities enforced the closures and teams from the interior ministry and other agencies were sent to impose the new restrictions.

The Cabinet decided on Wednesday to shut down all businesses from 8 pm to 5 am and completely close health clubs, salons and barbershops for a month. The Cabinet also banned the entry of foreigners into the country from Sunday for two weeks, but exempted medics and diplomats. MPs have strongly rejected the new government measures and called for swift compensation of businesses. The new measures come as the number of reported coronavirus cases continued to climb, with the health ministry reporting 996 new cases yesterday.

Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he has informed the caretaker government about a motion filed by MPs calling to convene a special Assembly session to discuss the pandemic and other related matters. He said he is awaiting the government’s response on the motion.

Meanwhile, the Assembly’s women and family committee yesterday approved a proposal calling to grant children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis permanent residency in the country. Children of Kuwaiti women married to foreigners are not granted citizenship under Kuwaiti law. The proposal also calls to accord this category priority of employment in government jobs after Kuwaiti citizens and treat them on equal footing like citizens in the job.

The legal and legislative committee meanwhile approved a draft law granting a general amnesty to a number of former ex-MPs and opposition activists who have been living in exile for over 30 months. Head of the committee MP Khaled Al-Enezi said the bill also stipulates national reconciliation. The opposition former MPs and activists were handed heavy jail terms over two years ago for storming the Assembly building following an anti-corruption protest in Nov 2011. The general pardon was on top of the political agenda of a majority of MPs during their election campaign in December.

MP Khaled Al-Otaibi also submitted a draft law stipulating to amend the election law. Under the proposal, voters will be allowed to cast two votes in their constituency and one vote outside their district. Each of the five constituencies will elect nine MPs. The remaining five MPs will be the top vote getters from the remaining candidates.

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