FINALLY, after a very long wait, the Kuwait Investment Authority, with the unlimited support from the Minister of Finance Nayef Al Hajraf, has succeeded in selecting a group that may be the best choice so far in terms of practical experience, suitable career history and clean biography for the management of Kuwait Airways for the next three years.
Many wondered why Kuwait’s new board of directors is not made up of aviation experts, unlike President Yusuf Al-Jassem (1948), holder of a degree in economy (1971), who had previously held positions at the Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) after his graduation and until 1997.
When he left the KAC, he was deputy director-general, add to this the experience of the new board member Adel Al Youssafi, who was already a member during the chairmanship of KAC Sami Al-Nisf, who was dismissed in an abusive manner.
It is known that the board of directors of any large company is accountable to the shareholders (the state) for the company’s overall strategy and performance. Directing the company’s activities and actions, and taking decisions within its responsibilities with the CEO, who is responsible for implementing the company’s vision, mission and objectives, set by the Board of Directors.
The board also approves the company’s annual budget, takes important decisions about it, selects executives, controls capital expenditures and dividends, and more importantly, monitors the integrity of internal control and the reporting systems.
Therefore, we see that it is not the responsibility of the Board of Directors to manage the company on a daily basis and to intervene in every small and big task. It is the task of the Executive Director who is responsible for these tasks.
It is sufficient that the Board of Directors has the ability and expertise to select the Chief Executive Officer and his assistants and senior consultants. This is what I personally see in the new Board, which every loyal son of this nation wishes to succeed in his mission.
The problem of KAC lies partly in the feeling of 1.4 million citizens that it is their father’s company, a feeling that the various former administrations have contributed to its development. Historically, they have been obliged to satisfy the wishes of at least 500 influential and political figures, and the rejection of any of them means accountability, enmity and accusations of non-cooperation, especially during travel seasons.
Therefore, we believe that the success of the KAC can be achieved by two important things, in addition to many other things less important:
First: the need to choose a non-Kuwaiti executive director, I repeat non-Kuwaiti, and not affiliated to any party, and highly qualified to implement the policy of the company, and does not accept any interference in its work.
Two, the government shall determine as soon as possible its position on the company, so that the Board of Directors may act accordingly.
Do you want to make it a leading airline carrying the flag of the nation and become the national carrier, at the lowest possible cost of public money, or prepare it for privatization and sell it wholly or partially to the private sector?
I think that tolerating either of the above, and choosing a local executive director means ‘we are beating a dead horse’.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf