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KUWAIT: According to a report published yesterday in a local Arab daily, the government is planning to limit the number of vehicles a person is allowed to own at two for citizens and one for expats. This proposal may be announced at the beginning of the next year. The proposal also calls to stop renewing registrations of old vehicles without specifying the period, which could be between 8 to 12 years.

The Ministry of Interior hasn’t received any official instructions to take action in this matter. “We are an executive department that applies the law and executes decisions. It’s possible that there are committees at the ministry studying this proposal, but we are not aware of it yet,” Maj Naser Buslaib, Head of the Media Department at the Ministry of Interior told Kuwait Times. Economic analyst Hajaj Bukhadour thinks such a proposal is not realistic and doesn’t believe it may be applied. “Such rules do not exist in any country, even the poor ones or those suffering from traffic woes. Through such unreal proposals, the officials in charge are trying to shirk the problem.

The officials pin the blame and responsibility on expats as they are not qualified and creative enough to find a solution for the traffic problem in Kuwait,” he pointed out. Development and improvement in administration is important to solve major problems. “We should improve the performance of the officials who are in charge of issuing decisions.

There are mistakes in any institution, but we need to improve and this is a great part of solving the problem. Such a proposal proves that officials in charge at the Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Interior and other institutions didn’t study the problem correctly,” stressed Bukhadour. There are various solutions according to him. “Different public institutions should cooperate to organize the movement of people in streets through different timings of public employees, schools and others. Also, the government should provide modern and clean public transportation such as a metro or new modern buses that will respect the time and have stops near residential areas that are shaded to suit the hot weather when passengers are waiting for the bus,” he explained. He mentioned additional solutions. “Developing roads and the infrastructure is very important in solving the traffic problem. Also, the development of the Traffic Department will help in this matter. I think that such suggestions may bring better results in solving the traffic problem rather that coming up with unreal proposals,” concluded Bukhadour.

By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah kicked off the third Africa-Arab summit yesterday by pledging $1 billion in low-interest loans and the same amount in investments to African states. The two-day summit in Kuwait is exploring ways to promote economic ties between the Arab world, which includes wealthy Gulf states, and investment-thirsty Africa. “I ordered officials of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development to provide soft loans worth $1 billion to Africa over the next five years,” Sheikh Sabah announced. The Amir added that Kuwait, in cooperation with the World Bank and other international institutions, had decided “to provide investments and investment guarantees worth $1 billion” over the coming years focused on infrastructure projects.

The Kuwait Fund is the state’s investment and aid arm in African, Asian and Arab countries. It has already provided billions of dollars in low-interest loans for development and infrastructure projects. Thirty-four heads of state, seven vice presidents and three heads of government are attending the summit, which brings together 71 countries and organisations. The meeting is the first of its kind since 2010, when leaders met in Libya prior to the Arab Spring uprisings that toppled long-term dictatorships in the region. The leaders are expected to approve measures and resolutions adopted by foreign ministers on Sunday aimed at boosting economic cooperation between countries in the two regions.

In his opening speech, Sheikh Sabah called for a focus on projects to achieve “food security” in Arab and African countries. African leaders who address the meeting said an economic partnership between Africa and the Arab world would benefit everyone. “It is a win-win partnership for the two sides,” said Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba. He called for increased cooperation between the private sectors and for the formation of an African-Arab business council. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is also co-chairperson of summit, said that focused investments by sovereign wealth funds can lead to a “green revolution” in Africa “which is capable of meeting Arab food demands”.

Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah said the summit would discuss a proposal by the Africa-Arab Economic Forum to create an Arab-African common market for a combined population of around 1.2 billion people. The leaders will also look at how to accelerate investment flows into Africa, which is facing an acute investment gap. According to the World Bank, Africa needs around $30 billion a year just to develop its energy sector.

The International Monetary Fund says African economic growth was a solid 5.0 percent in 2012 despite the world economic crisis. Growth is forecast to ease slightly at 4.8 percent this year and rebound to 5.1 percent in 2014. In addition, Africa has 12 percent of global oil reserves and 42 percent of its gold deposits. The discovery of large quantities of natural gas off Africa’s east coasts has added to the continent’s economic potential. On the other hand, the energy-rich Gulf Cooperation Council states have accumulated surpluses of $2.0 trillion thanks to persistently high oil prices. A majority of the assets are invested in the United States and Europe.

The summit held in Libya three years ago adopted an Africa-Arab Partnership Strategy and a 2011-2016 Joint Action Plan to increase investment, trade and other economic projects. But implementation has been slow, in part because of the turmoil unleashed by the 2011 Arab Spring, which saw the leaders of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen toppled by mass protests and the outbreak of civil war in Syria.

Meanwhile, an Arab ministerial committee charged with monitoring the Middle East peace process blamed Israel for the impasse in negotiations with the Palestinians after the meeting. “Israel is responsible for the deep crisis in negotiations because of its intensifying of settlements (construction), repeated attacks against the sacred Al-Aqsa mosque (in Jerusalem), seizing of Palestinian lands, and strengthening the blockade against Gaza,” it said in a statement.

The committee, which is chaired by Qatar and includes 13 Arab countries, met on the sidelines of the Arab-African summit in the presence of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. The latest peace talks, launched at Washington’s urging in July, have shown little sign of progress, with the Palestinians objecting to repeated Israeli announcements of new settlement construction on occupied territory. A major spike in settlement announcements last week prompted the resignation of the entire Palestinian negotiating team. But on Sunday Abbas told AFP that peace talks with Israel would continue for the full nine months agreed with Washington -”regardless of what happens on the ground”. – Agencies

KUWAIT: Education Ministry Undersecretary Mariam Al-Wutaid yesterday declared that today (Wednesday) will be a holiday for school students of all grades. She added in the press statement the announcement does not include teachers and other educational staff, for whom it will be a usual working day. The decision was reached after a study by assistant undersecretaries of the education ministry and extends to all public, private and special needs schools.

Meanwhile, Director-General of the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET) Dr Ahmad Al-Athari said yesterday that all students of colleges and institutes, except for teaching and administrative staff, will be on holiday tomorrow. “The decision has been taken as a result of the bad weather and heavy rains in the last two days,” he told KUNA, noting that the rains damaged some PAAET’s facilities. – KUNA

KUWAIT: A number of MPs yesterday strongly criticized Minister of Public Works and Electricity and Water Abdulaziz Al-Ibrahim over failure of ministry teams to deal with heavy rains, with at least one MP calling on him to step down. At least two people have been killed as heavy rainfall lashed the country in the past two days, causing heavy material damage and turning some areas into ponds as the drainage system failed to cope with the large amount of rain.

“The country sank in heavy rain because the government is sinking deep in corruption. The government has lacked a vision and planning. It is not ready to face and manage crises,” said opposition MP Riyadh Al-Adasani, who has filed a request to grill the prime minister over alleged mismanagement. “The country has been in paralysis and without achievements for several years,” he said. MP Maasouma Al-Mubarak said that 30 minutes of rain have exposed those responsible for corruption in implementing projects, especially at the ministry of public works and the municipality. She said heavy rains have also exposed the absence of a real contingency plan. “We have indeed drowned in shallow waters which is a scandal that necessitates questioning,” she said.

MP Adel Al-Khorafi however called on the minister to acknowledge his weak performance and preparations to face the heavy rain and accordingly submit his resignation. Khorafi said the ministry’s performance in dealing with rain has been well below the mark although sufficient opportunity and time had been provided for the ministry to prepare, but it failed. The lawmaker criticized ministry officials for failing to utilize the huge budget allocated for the ministry. But the ministry yesterday defended the ministry’s weak performance on the fact that large quantities of rain fell in a short time that exceeded the capacity of the drainage system. The minister said that in some areas, rainfall in one hour on Monday exceeded the average rainfall of several months combined.

In another development, Shiite MP Youssef Al-Zalzalah called yesterday on Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah to carry out a Cabinet reshuffle to dismiss a number of ministers who are spoiling ties with the National Assembly. The lawmaker said the premier needs to change at least five ministers whom he accused of failing to cooperate with MPs. MP Safa Al-Hashem meanwhile said yesterday that there are no personal motives behind the request she filed last week to grill the prime minister. She said the grilling deals with the failure to handle the country’s administration and draw up the right policies. The debate of the grilling is scheduled for Nov 26.

By B Izzak

QUETTA: Six officials of Pakistan customs were kidnapped by unknown persons on Sunday from Balochistan's coastal city of Jiwany, DawnNews reported.

The kidnappers also reportedly made away with the vehicle and weapons of the custom officials.

Authorities were clueless about the incident. No one had claimed responsibility for the kidnapping till the filing of this report.

Jiwany is the coastal border area between Iran and Pakistan and lies in the restive Balochistan province's Gwadar district.

Balochistan is rife with militants and hit by a regional insurgency and sectarian attacks.

In other unrelated news FC personnel launched a search operation in Hudda district jail and recovered eight mobilephone sets and other prohibited material from the inmates.

In another incident security personnel arrested seven suspects from Garamkan area in the outskirts of Balochistan's Panjgur district.

Relatives of the arrested suspects staged a protest against the authorities and claimed that the persons who were picked up were innocent.

The protestors blocked the road between Quetta and Panjgur.

Security officials declined to comment over the incident.

— Syed Ali Shah contributed to the reporting of this story

KUWAIT: Investigations are ongoing to determine the circumstances behind the death of a Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh resident whose body was found in his apartment. Police headed to a building in the area in response to an emergency call reporting that foul odor was emanating from one of the apartments. Police obtained a warrant to break into the apartment and found the Asian man dead inside. Crime scene investigators were called to carry out examinations before the body was taken to the forensic department for an autopsy.

KUWIAT: Director of Metrological Center at Kuwait Civil Aviation Directorate Mohammad Karam expected the country to witness unstable weather conditions starting today for the next few days, with a chance of thunderstorms and rain. He predicted moderate rain today mostly in southern areas, adding that a cloud cover will develop during night hours today and tomorrow morning, increasing the chances of thunderstorms.

The unstable conditions will intensify tomorrow as the seasonal Sudan depression advances towards Kuwait, helped by the presence of a cold air mass in the higher atmospheres. The meeting of this depression which is relatively warm and loaded with moisture will form more thunderous clouds causing rain that may be strong in some areas tomorrow morning.

Karam said unstable conditions are expected to continue until Wednesday before conditions start to improve. He advised citizens and expats to monitor these conditions closely, adding the weather department will be on alert and will issue reports continually. Weather and environment expert Essa Ramadan said rain may start falling at dawn today over Kuwait, southern Iraq and Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. He forecast rain to continue until Wednesday. – KUNA

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