KUWAIT: In a lackluster session, which started late and was interrupted several times for lack of quorum, the National Assembly yesterday passed in the first reading the consumer protection law and amendments to the Zakat House law. The 37-article consumer protection law calls for the establishment of an independent national committee for consumer protection and to grant its employees the authority to take action against violations by merchants. The Assembly is expected to approve the second and final reading of the law after two weeks in order to allow proposed amendments to the law.
During the debate, MPs complained that the consumer protection department at the ministry of commerce and industry was inactive and not effectively helping citizens. MP Khalil Abul said most of the department’s employees do not work and do not perform their jobs and accordingly fail to provide any protection to the consumers. He said that there are some loopholes in the law that need to be fixed, especially with regards to providing employees enough powers to prevent merchants from exploiting consumers.
MP Youssef Al-Zalzalah said the law contains a number of important articles like the one that requires shops to return or refund defected products within 14 days of sale. MP Abdulhameed Dashti said the market requires many controls and hoped the new law will provide these controls to safeguard the interests of consumers.
The Assembly also approved a few technical amendments to the Zakat House law as Shiite MP Saleh Ashour called on the state-owned establishment not to discriminate between citizens. Ashour claimed that a number of senior officials and employees at the House inquire about the sect of people before they offer them any aid, although it gets KD 5 million every year from the government. He said the House must provide aid to needy people regardless of their religion, sect or nationality and threatened that he may use constitutional tools if such practices continue.
The Assembly however failed to approve the environment protection draft law because of a lack of quorum, which forced acting speaker Yacoub Al-Sane to adjourn the session prematurely. The next session is on April 29. During the debate on the law, Oil Minister Ali Al-Omair said Kuwait has received the full amount of environment compensation for damages inflicted by the 1990 Iraqi invasion. Omair said the amount is $2.97 billion and will be utilized in improving the country’s environment, grossly affected by the Iraqi invasion.
By B Izzak
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