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HISTORICAL accounts narrate a story about the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine). In the fifth century AD, the people of that empire were preoccupied with a debate over what came first – chicken or egg. This distraction led them to fail in realizing the danger posed by their enemies who had besieged their city.
Their enemies went on to occupy the city, while the Byzantines were busy with their debate until it became an example in history, such that people began referring to any sterile debate as “Byzantine”.
This incident reminds me of the bitter reality that Kuwait is experiencing. At a time when countries rushed to eliminate the economic risks sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic by taking advantage of the opportunity to strengthen their sovereign assets and recover what their country had lost during the pandemic either by borrowing to buy assets and strengthening the sovereign money or stimulating the private sector, Kuwait was preoccupied with the debate between the government and the National Assembly over minor matters.
This led some opportunists to grasp the moment and capitalize on the pandemic through tenders and bids that exceed their actual cost by a large extent, and charged public money with a new deficit.
The government did not try to stop these violations. It instead resorted to complicating the situation by imposing impractical solutions in the matter of stimulating the private sector, as if the government was fueling the fire.
It is true that the executive authority is trying as much as possible to hold people responsible for their electoral choices, but by doing so, it is shooting its own foot. In the end, the government and the people are the ones who will pay the price, not the MPs.
This is due to the fact that the MPs are like a saw with firm conviction that the tribal or sectarian prestige, or their act of buying votes was what brought them into the parliament due to which they must benefit from that. Therefore, it did not come as a surprise when the accounts of a large segment of them swelled overnight.
The voters’ bets on the MPs are due to the lack of a clear plan of action by the executive authority to deal with national issues. People believe in every new slogan launched from anywhere but they ask for only two basic things.
First, revitalize the economic cycle, and reclassify Kuwait’s sovereign wealth to its glorious days. Also, hold accountable those who missed the many opportunities in the past two years, instead of the past three decades, and maintain a minimum standard of decent living.
Second, strengthen the sovereign wealth by limiting its management and supervision to the political leadership. This means that the Kuwait Investment Authority, the Future Generations Fund and other related bodies directly fall under the political leadership that appoints trustees with experienced economic and financial expertise, and deter any form of intercession (wasta) from any party.
People aspire for the revival of the past social and cultural openness in Kuwait as well as to being an Arab beacon, not only to the Gulf region like it was in the second half of the twentieth century, and whose institutions are still living on the legacy of that success.
On the other hand, the parliamentary outputs related to tribal, sectarian and political currents were the reason for cuffing the country with a series of backward laws, as if they wanted people to work for its afterlife. There is an honorable hadith – “Work for your life as if you live forever and work for your hereafter as if you die tomorrow.”
Working for the hereafter does not mean not striving to improve the conditions of the state and people. These factions aim to mold people according to their goals in order to dominate society more. They hence worked to close Kuwait in this manner, which led to the economic and financial ruin that we are enduring today.
Kuwaitis view their political leadership as their final refuge.They are not asking more than to stop such Byzantine debates between a government that lost its chicken and an assembly that assumes its egg is a stone.
Nonetheless, this goes without mentioning that the last remedy is cauterization in order to turn the page of a government and a national assembly that brought nothing but ruin to this country.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times