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Thursday , August 18 2022

Minister of Finance … do not become a scapegoat

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THE matter is crystal clear … The adoption of the law to increase the capital of the Kuwait Credit Bank is nothing more than a sedative, which is the best of the worst currently, pending the initiative of the Ministry of Finance to develop a real strategy for the development of the state’s finances, and to preserve the national wealth from waste, whose spigots are open in every direction.

There is no doubt that Minister Abdulwahab Al-Rasheed, who is a financial expert, understands the faults and knows how to address them. This matter requires a bold decision only from the minister.

Undoubtedly, one of the problems related to wastage of public money is the oil sector. This sector has been overburdened with workers due to parliamentary interference for many years, and canned appointments, making it like a manor in which every MP or political current has a stake.

This fact was also realized by the Minister of Oil Muhammad Abdullatif Al-Fares, who also knows that the chaos related to recruitment has prompted the holders of the fake certificates to rush to the sector because of the high salaries. This in turn results in increasing the cost of production, and opens other windows of wastage in the sector, especially contracting. This point in particular is widespread, not only in the oil sector, but in all corners of the state.

His Excellency the Minister, the waste through public projects is so great that it cannot be covered up. A project that costs KD 1 million is priced at KD 10 million. On top of that, change orders are added, which is a legally regulated door to looting. To top it all is the taps opened by previous governments to finance deals and settlements with the successive parliaments.

Given that the Minister of Finance is not an accountant in a grocery store, his role is very effective and influential, as he has the authority to present a series of proposed laws to fill all the gaps in public finances.

He can also follow the example of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in the process of controlling project costs. In the Emirates, if the ministry of Finance senses that there is a suspicion of corruption in a project, he immediately refers the contractor to the Public Prosecution, and entrusts the work to another contractor at the expense of the principal contractor.

As for the historical measures taken by the Saudi government under the directives of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the direct follow-up of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the detention of corrupt princes and businessmen in the Ritz Hotel in Riyadh, led to the recovery of $200 billion. This step was taken after discovering that about 10 percent of the public budget had been dedicated to financing corruption since 1980.

It goes without saying that the traditional treatments for defects in the public finance increase the burden on the common people who no longer know whom to turn to, especially in the absence of His Highness the Prime Minister in hearing the voice of the people, and not taking into account what the experts say, which made the government appear as if it is unable to solve these defects.

As long as the matter is left to each minister, there is no doubt that Abdul Wahab Al-Rasheed knows very well that he alone will bear the responsibility in the end, and that His Highness the Prime Minister will forsake him at the very first crisis.

Therefore, he must work seriously from now on to develop perceptions and suggestions, and take the correct measures so that he does not become a scapegoat in any future deal between His Highness the Prime Minister and any of the parliamentary blocs or others.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times