KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah swore in a new Cabinet yesterday that includes new oil, finance and defence ministers and seven members of the ruling Al-Sabah family. The Amir called for “positive and fruitful cooperation” between the new government and parliament to push ahead with economic development and the improvement of public services. Prime Minister HH Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah said the new government would seek cooperation with MPs to “open a new page” in the history of Kuwait.

Disputes between successive governments and parliament have stalled development in the emirate which has surpluses of around $400 billion thanks to high oil prices over the past 12 years. The swearing-in of the new 16-member cabinet came after the second parliamentary election in eight months was again boycotted by the opposition. Former Central Bank governor Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz Al-Sabah, who resigned last year in protest over a huge expansion in public spending, was appointed finance minister.

In his resignation letter in February last year, Sheikh Salem complained that public spending had increased to unprecedented and unsustainably high levels, jeopardising fiscal and monetary stability. Between 2006 and 2012, government spending tripled to more than $70 billion with the overwhelming majority going to support salary increases and state subsidies. The outgoing finance minister Mustafa Al-Shamali was named oil minister, a post he had held on a caretaker basis since May following the resignation of Hani Hussein.

As well as the premier, six other members of the Al-Sabah family were appointed to the Cabinet, one more than in the previous government. They control the key ministries of defence, interior and foreign affairs, as well as finance, information and health. New interior and defence ministers were appointed from within the ruling family. “The government has seven members from the ruling family and the rest are former ministers … This confirms that there is no intention to inject young blood,” independent MP Riyadh Al-Adasani said. “Article 6 of the constitution states that the people are the source of all powers but in reality the ruling family is the source of all powers,” former opposition MP Abdulrahman Al-Anjari wrote on his Twitter account.

The ministers of commerce, development, social affairs and labour, education and Islamic affairs were retained. Newly-elected MP Issa Al-Kandari was appointed communications minister. The Cabinet retains the two female ministers in the same posts and has two members from the Shiite minority. “It appears we are before a policy that will never change and a mentality that has not understood the message of the election,” independent Shiite MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan said in a statement. MP Maasouma Al-Mubarak, normally close to the government, said she was shocked by the retention in the new lineup of several ministers who had failed to perform and warned it was likely to lead to new friction with parliament.

The previous Cabinet, also headed by Sheikh Jaber, resigned last week in a routine process following a general election. The July 27 vote was boycotted by the Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition but saw turnout of 52.5 percent, sharply up on the record low of 40 percent in the previous election in December. The new Cabinet is Kuwait’s 12th since 2006. The emirate has been hit by a series of political crises that have forced 11 cabinets to resign and parliament to be dissolved on six occasions. Kuwait, which says it sits on 10 percent of global oil reserves, pumps around three million barrels of crude per day. It has a citizen population of 1.23 million and 2.67 million expatriate residents.

source:  the kuwait times