I accepted the invitation from Engineer Ahmad Al-Manfouhi to attend a lecture on ‘The New Municipality’ with sisters and brothers of those who were interested in public affairs. What we saw on the screen and we what we heard from senior Municipal officials was strange.
However it was a source for joy. I say this because of the hardships the citizens have suffered over the past half a century. During the lecture I forgot about all the hardships, although it was short-lived, thinking of realizing my dreams based on the explanation given by the Director-General of the Kuwait Municipality about the ‘New Municipality’ project. Al-Manfouhi has discovered it will take him much time and effort to put the Municipality on the right track as he attempts to shun the old legacy because of the rampant corruption which has prevailed in the Municipality for eighty years. He concluded by saying it is preferable to create a new work environment depending on unconventional paperless measures.
Paperless means approval of applications for Municipal licenses, whether to construct a building or villa, or license for advertisement or others electronically as long as the conditions are met without the need of the applicant to visit the department in person. This will save the applicant the problem of carrying with him books and maps, endless efforts to get signature of dozens of junior and senior staff and the waiting period of approval which is calculated at not less than six months minimum.
This is also because the documents will not be lost in the basement of the Municipality. What I said is not a dream, but a fact we saw on the ground of reality moment by moment when an engineering firm applied for a license to construct a commercial building for a citizen.
The charts were studied and approved after ensuring they conformed to the conditions and did not commit any breaches. The same engineering office thereafter was asked to submit a request for supervising the project, and it was also approved. All of these were done within our relatively short presence in the office without paperwork, where everything was digitalized directly between the Municipality and the engineering office, without email and without bothering the engineering office to send a representative who would have to listen, ‘check with our office tomorrow’ or ‘check a month later’. With the application of the new system at the ‘New Municipality’, the scandals about loss of transactions seem to have ended because now these transactions are stored in the computer memory and the back files stored in another country to prevent the ‘deliberate’.
Moreover, these transactions are under the direct control of the Office of the Director-General to prevent misuse. What Engineer Al- Manfouhi has done in the Mubarak Al-Kabir Municipality will also be applied in the rest of the Governorates and this is nearly a miracle. It will inevitably result in increasing state revenues, stop manipulations the collection of fees and save time for both the applicants and management, not to mention the other countless advantages that come along with it. If the entire project is carried out, this is what will happen inevitably, it will mark the end of the argument ‘Corruption at Municipality is unbearable’.
Thanks to the person who had earlier precisely described corruption at the Municipality. He is the one who supports the idea of eliminating the old legacy in the Municipality. We do not want to be unfair to Engineer Al-Manfouhi who has managed to put women in most important and most sensitive departments at the Municipality. We hope he will not be promoted to a higher position, but remain as the Director-General of the Municipality for the next four years at least to complete the pioneering project to convert the corrupt state institutions into the most efficient.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf