The Popular Action Bloc on Monday brought the crisis over the Al-Zour refinery to square one after rejecting the government's decision to refer the project to the Audit Bureau, branding the action as "insufficient" and reiterating threats to grill "any member of the government". The bloc said in a statement that the government must scrap the bidding process and awarding of contracts and re-invite new bids through the Central Tenders Committee (CTC) and in accordance with the Tenders Law.
The Cabinet on Monday bowed to political pressure and referred the project to the Audit Bureau for investigation and ordered Kuwait National Petroleum Co (KNPC) to submit all related documents. But the Popular Bloc said that the referral was based on article 25 of the Audit Bureau law and should have instead been referred in accordance with articles 13 and 14 of the same law to allow the bureau to "launch a full-fledged investigation".
It reiterated that the awarding of the contracts was flawed because it was not based on the Tenders Law, recalling that the first tender, which was scrapped because of high bids, was based on the Tenders Law and passed through the CTC. The bloc alleged that the government action is insufficient and is an attempt to "give the impression that the government is serious in its effort to clarify facts, which is not true".
The only way to put the project on the right track is through offering tenders on the basis of the Tenders Law and through the CTC and that all the contracts must be revised by the government's legal department and the project duly scrutinized by the Audit Bureau, the statement said.
The bloc said that a huge project like the refinery at Al-Zour, for which the government has earmarked KD 4 billion, should not be handled by a committee appointed by KNPC or Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) and should be handled by the CTC. The bloc said that its statement aims to prevent any misunderstanding or confusion and clarify facts "which the government and some influential parties are trying to hide".
The bloc reiterated its threat that it would grill "any member of the Cabinet" if the government does not halt all procedures regarding the project. The bloc's threat appears directed at the oil minister or the prime minister. When three lawmakers submitted a request to grill the prime minister for the first time in May 2006, the National Assembly was dissolved. A number of MPs on Monday welcomed the government decision to order an investigation describing the decision as a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, Majed Mussa, a member of the Municipal Council, on Monday called on MPs who belong to Mutairi tribe to support "their cousin", the oil minister Mohammad Al-Olaim who belongs to the same tribe. There are six Mutairi MPs in the National Assembly, including Musallam Al-Barrak who is incidentally the spokesman of the Popular Bloc.
Copyright (c) 2008, Kuwait Times. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.