Kuwait’s government could pursue key economic reforms more aggressively in 2010, after surviving a no-confidence vote in parliament on 16 December, according to a senior political and economic analysts in the country.
Members of the country’s National Assembly (parliament) voted not to uphold the no-confidence motion tabled the previous week by conservative MPs led by Faysal al-Mislem. Of the 49 MPs present at the vote, 35 voted against the motion, 13 for it, and one abstained.
The vote came a week after Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohamed al-Ahmed al-Sabah had answered MPs questions over allegations of financial misconduct. The allegations centred on claims by Al-Mislem that Sheikh Nasser had given an MP KD200,000 ($701,000) in June 2008.
Sheikh Nasser’s survival proves that the majority of MPs support his government, according to one senior source in the cabinet office. “We hope that this will let him pursue his agenda more aggressively,” says the source, who asked to remain anonymous.
Kamel al-Harami, a Kuwaiti economic analyst, agrees that the vote is a clear endorsement of Sheikh Nasser’s government, but warns that the prime minister must follow it up by pushing ahead with new projects and reforms which are vital to the economy.
“This is good news for Kuwait, the constitution and for democracy in the country,” says Al-Harami. “Standing up to questioning puts him on the right track, but now he has to move forward with his plans. Our expectation now is to see things moving on and projects happening.”
More than $239bn of projects are planned in Kuwait, according to MEED Projects, but few government schemes have come to fruition in 2009 because of the stand-off between Sheikh Nasser’s government and opposition MPs.
In March, Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation cancelled contracts to build a $15bn refinery at Al-Zour after MPs complained that the state-run refiner had failed to tender the contracts properly.
The government’s inability to work with parliament has also prevented it from getting key reforms passed, such as its bill to set up a markets regulator.