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Wednesday , October 28 2020

Another lockdown will launch “bullet of mercy” on Kuwait’s economy

KUWAIT CITY, Sept 9: Several economists have rejected the demands made by some people for the return of the lockdown, stressing that it would mean the destruction of what remains of the economy and elimination of what remains of the commercial activities for small and medium-sized enterprises.

In separate statements, the experts affirmed that the return of the lockdown would mean the launch of the “bullet of mercy” on the remaining economic activities that have suffered over the past six months from financial losses, which may be difficult to compensate in the short term.

They highlighted that the current rate of victims infected with COVID-19 is still normal, and that the announced increase in the numbers did not come until after the increase in the number of swab tests conducted by the Ministry of Health, which means the numbers may rise as the number of daily swab tests increases.

The experts stressed the importance of enhanced awareness and implementation of the Ministry of Health’s guidelines for wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, instead of returning to the implementation of the lockdown measures, which will do more harm than good, reports Al-Anba daily. In this regard, economist Tariq Al-Ateeqi affirmed that he is against the idea of another lockdown, stressing that a noticeable increase in the number of infections is due to the increased number of swab tests carried out by the Ministry of Health, due to which the numbers that are announced on a daily basis may increase or decrease according to the number of swab tests conducted daily.

He explained that the talks about the return of the lockdown does not commensurate with the encouraging results of the announcement concerning the availability of vaccines from different countries, especially since a number of countries in the world announced the launch of production of vaccines against COVID-19 alongside Russia, Britain, China and Japan. Also, the initial results of the Chinese and Japanese vaccines confirmed their positivity at the global and local levels alike.

On the other hand, the world will not be able to bear another closure of the economy, especially after the great losses suffered by global economies as a result of the lockdown witnessed by the countries of the world, and the resulting financial losses in many sectors. It starts with the retail business, tourism and travel sector and others of which the companies were forced to reduce the number of employees by terminating a large segment of workers after the closing of branches of many large companies. It also led to bankruptcy of a good number of small and medium companies.

The return of the lockdown means launching the “bullet of mercy” on the remaining small and medium enterprises, especially since Kuwait was one of those countries in the world where activities stayed suspended the most after a long ban that extended for 161 days.

Al-Ateeqi said, “The best solution for this matter lies in coexisting with this pandemic by following the instructions and health measures imposed by the responsible authorities in the state. This includes wearing masks in public places, maintaining personal hygiene, following health safety procedures, and applying divergence procedures, until the plan for the return to normal life is completed”.

Meanwhile, economist Dr. Khaled Al-Jeraiwi said the lockdown did not achieve any tangible results, as the daily rate of infections still revolve in the same ark both during and after the period of the lockdown, at between 500 and 700 cases.

He highlighted that the global reports published about the numbers of people infected with COVID-19 indicate that only about 20 percent of the infections are real, while the rest are only minor symptoms of the disease and do not pose any danger to people.

Dr. Al-Jeraiwi indicated that many parties have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic for monopolizing products and achieving high profits in certain activities.

He said, “Those who monitor the commodity prices in Kuwait notice a significant increase in the prices of goods, products and services. It began since the emergence of the virus and continues to this day. Indeed, the prices of manpower services have also increased in an exaggerated manner as a result of the consequences of this pandemic, which has affected all walks of life”.

Dr. Al-Jeraiwi highlighted that Kuwait is currently on the threshold of the fifth stage of the restoration plan announced by the Council of Ministers, due to which it is illogical to return back to a previous stage of the plan before the completion of all stages and then evaluation of the final situation, especially since the high level of awareness among citizens and residents in all facilities, institutions and complexes that have been reopened has been noticed.

He warned against rushing to make the decision to bring back the lockdown, as such a decision would threaten the economy and the interests of a large segment of activities that have suffered greatly over the course of six months as a result of the suspension of their activities and their financial losses, which may be difficult to compensate in the short term.

Dr. Al-Jeraiwi insisted that caution is more effective than a lockdown at the current stage.

In addition, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Integrated Products & Services Company (IPSCO) Eng. Alaa Hassan affirmed that the world experienced a complex situation of a special kind that particularly affected the economy and health sectors.

She explained that all countries of the world took their decision based on the fact that the health of citizens is more important than the movement of the economy, and thus resorted to a comprehensive lockdown. However, this led to the disastrous impact on the global economic movement and its economic and psychological consequences that are still prevalent until now.

The world has not yet found a solution to the COVID-19 crisis except for the closure, which resulted in almost total stoppage of the world economy as a whole. The global economy experienced a historical contraction due to the closure, and a new record of unemployment rate was recorded as more than 22 million people lost their jobs.

The social impacts of the COVID-19 crisis were seen at the household level, while the global and local economy also became unable to tolerate the closure.

Eng. Hassan said, “The economic, psychological and social conditions can no longer bear the imposition of another lockdown, especially after the economy has lost a lot as a result of the comprehensive lockdown. There is no reason for another lockdown, as many countries paid huge amounts for protecting the health of their citizens. Everyone is still paying the price of the previous comprehensive lockdown and its effects”.

She added, “I believe tightening the preventive measures, along with our cooperation and solidarity, is the right solution, not a lockdown or stopping the wheel of the economy because such a situation can never be tolerated”.

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