x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

FNC members put forward record number of questions

UAE cancer care, sports funding, Down's syndrome treatment, banking, Emirati personal debt and the state of schools all on today's agenda, plus more.

The FNC is scheduled to raise questions on issues ranging from the personal debts of Emiratis to the rising number of spinsters among Emirati women when it convenes at its headquarters in Abu Dhabi today.
The FNC is scheduled to raise questions on issues ranging from the personal debts of Emiratis to the rising number of spinsters among Emirati women when it convenes at its headquarters in Abu Dhabi today.

ABU DHABI // FNC members have put 14 questions forward for ministers at today's session - the most since they were elected and appointed last year.

But some queries will go unanswered, with the Minister of Health, Abdul Rahman Al Owais, absent despite a call at the last meeting for him to attend.

Mr Al Owais was to appear to answer questions about working conditions for medical interns, Down's syndrome and cancer in the country, and new sports facilities.

Members yesterday said they had been told he would not be attending.

Dr Sheikha Al Owais (Sharjah), who planned to ask about the interns, said she understood the circumstances of the minister's absence and would put her question next time.

But the Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Obaid Al Tayer, will be there to answer questions about Emiratis' personal debt and the possibility of unifying banks' interest rates.

Recent presidential decrees have ordered that Emiratis' debts should be paid off, up to a limit increased this week to Dh5 million.

FNC members have previously expressed concerns about this approach, saying people should not rely on the Government to help out with debts.

Ahmad Al Amash (Ras Al Khaimah), who will put the question, has blamed banks that target Emiratis with their special offers despite knowing they will be unable to pay the money back.

Ali Al Nuaimi (Ajman), one of the council's more vocal members, will ask the minister how he plans to support Emirati manufacturing and small and medium businesses.

And Dr Abdulrahim Al Shahin (RAK) will ask why a Customs oversight board has not been established, despite a 2009 amendment requiring one.

Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for FNC Affairs, will be asked by Hamad Al Rahoumi (Dubai) about delays by ministries and other government bodies in providing the FNC with up-to-date figures, hampering its work.

There will also be written responses from Dr Maitha Al Shamsi, Minister of State and chair of the Marriage Fund.

Musabah Al Ketbi (Sharjah) has asked Dr Al Shamsi what the ministry plans to do about the increasing number of unmarried women, which, he said, "could lead to problems in society and obstacles in the future in the population structure".

And Mr Al Nuaimi will ask Dr Al Shamsi about the Marriage Fund's source of income.

Humaid Al Qattami, the Minister of Education, will also provide a written response to Saeed Al Khatri's (RAK) question about jobs for unemployed Emiratis, particularly graduates of Higher Colleges of Technology and school-leavers.

And Mr Al Qattami will provide a written answer to Ghareeb Al Siraidi (Fujairah) about the state of Fujairah schools.

"Most schools in Fujairah suffer from damaged infrastructure and a shortage in some of the equipment," Mr Al Siraidi said.

"Why are schools not going through maintenance and provided with needed equipment?"

Today's session will be open to the public at the FNC headquarters in Abu Dhabi, starting at 9am.

osalem@thenational.ae